Weezer

Personal Story: TRUTH, A GRADUAL AWAKENING

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I will attempt to attach my story.  Warning.  It is long and may put you to sleep.  If you don't want to read about my childhood, skip down to the section I believe is called, "Beginning the questioning".

SEEKING TRUTH.odt

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6 minutes ago, Weezer said:

 If you don't want to read about my childhood, skip down to the section I believe is called, "Beginning the questioning".

SEEKING TRUTH.odt

 

Actually, the section to go to if you only want the doctrinal discussion is "Questioning the Doctrine".

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I didn't realize the story would be a link.   But that is probably better, as it would take a lot of room.

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Hi Weezer. I read all of it. I grew up from a different style of fundamentalism, but I feel a lot of what you're saying. Sorry to hear about your authoritarian dad. I had a similar situation with my dad, and it was his anger more than his lack of a logical argument, that really shook my faith. Why would there be reason to be angry unless he was scared, and why would he be scared unless he secretly knew... deep down inside... that he might be wrong? People can be really proudful and it can really suck.

 

Anyways, thanks for the thorough account of your thoughts and experiences. I had a brief brush with the Church of Christ in college. I'm glad I didn't get anywhere deeper with them.

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It seems many of our de-conversion experiences exhibit a number of similarities. At some point something triggers doubt. That doubt leads to questions and those questions lead to study, research, and exploration. Those studies and that research eventually leads to apostasy and apostasy leads to freedom. And with this new freedom comes a new world view. 

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6 hours ago, DestinyTurtle said:

 

 I had a brief brush with the Church of Christ in college. I'm glad I didn't get anywhere deeper with them.

 

C of Cs are autonomous, and In my travels I discovered a difference in the their rigidness on certain topics.  HA!  In Las Vegas they don't preach against gambling.  On the West coast they don't preach against mixed swimming.  Up north there used to be some who used instrumental music. etc.  Some of the more liberal groups have dropped C of C from their name.  One in Kansas is now simply called "Riverwalk Church."

 

And a few years back there were some charismatic, really controlling cult like groups got started.  I think most of the old traditional Hell fire and brimstone churches are gone, but underneath the surface is still that thought that they are "the" church.  But which ever group it was, be glad you passed them by.

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5 hours ago, Geezer said:

 

At some point something triggers doubt. That doubt leads to questions and those questions lead to study, research, and exploration.

 

It has been very interesting to see how different people react to evidence, that to me should lead to doubt and questions.  Some whom I regarded as more liberal thinkers, and secure enough to explore new information, have been the ones who got angry or simply "tuned out" of the discussion.  I have stopped even bringing the subject up.  But have wrestled with whether to do so or not.  Did I plant a seed?  Will it germinate later on?  

 

How do some of you handle this?  Do you ever do any even slight proselytizing?  Or just keep quiet And respond if someone asks about your position?  A part of me wants to do what was done to us.  Get right up in their face and say,  "hey, have you ever considered this?"

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13 hours ago, Weezer said:

 

It has been very interesting to see how different people react to evidence, that to me should lead to doubt and questions.  Some whom I regarded as more liberal thinkers, and secure enough to explore new information, have been the ones who got angry or simply "tuned out" of the discussion.  I have stopped even bringing the subject up.  But have wrestled with whether to do so or not.  Did I plant a seed?  Will it germinate later on?  

 

How do some of you handle this?  Do you ever do any even slight proselytizing?  Or just keep quiet And respond if someone asks about your position?  A part of me wants to do what was done to us.  Get right up in their face and say,  "hey, have you ever considered this?"

 

I've been out of religion for several years now. My experience tells me that until a person developes doubt on their own it's pointless to try and engage them in a discussion about the historical realities of the Bible & the Christian Faith. They tune the evidence out & refuse to listen much less actually consider what history has recorded. 

 

Apostasy, after all, is an unforgivable sin. Any attempt at proselytizing is almost certainly doomed for failure and will likely result in an angry response. When a former believer comes out they will generally  lose their former social structure & are labeled as agents of the Devil. Just like in the Star Wars movie, we have gone over to the Dark Side and we are now the enemy of God & His righteous believers. We are to be shunned, avoided, and ignored least we contaminate others with our false teaching. 

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I keep thinking of my own experience.  40 years ago I heard statements that sounded out in left field, or even offended me, but 20 years later they began to "sink in."  I guess the most important thing is to use discretion in what ever situation you are in.  But!  it is hard to keep my mouth shut at times!

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1 hour ago, Weezer said:

I keep thinking of my own experience.  40 years ago I heard statements that sounded out in left field, or even offended me, but 20 years later they began to "sink in."  I guess the most important thing is to use discretion in what ever situation you are in.  But!  it is hard to keep my mouth shut at times!

 

Remaining quiet in the presence of good people, that are simply ignorant when it comes to the history of the Bible, is often a really difficult thing to do. But speaking up can, and often does, lead to awkward situations and embarrassment for people that you care about. And for what? No one is going to take what you say seriously, and they quietly come to the conclusion that you've developed a mental health problem. In other words, they think you've lost your mind. 

 

If there is an upside to speaking up I haven't found it. Smiling and walking away is difficult, but, in most cases, that is the best thing to do. 

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Very well written. I can certainly relate to the changed relationships, and my family and friends aren't even aware of my non-belief yet. The loss of community and relationships is difficult to get used to, but it's better that way for me, as having a false foundation in relationships and knowing that people judge me for a "sinful" lifestyle is just too much. They're not honest and true relationships at their core.  Even being among family is difficult at this point, I don't know if it will get easier in time. Perhaps not, because there are many subtle ways in which they point out to you that you are no longer one of them, and that your influence on young children in the family is no longer welcome. Yes, its a lonely place to be out here, "under the sky," as Luther wrote, but it's also a clear view. And I have the chance to reclaim a healthy sense of self again, one that doesn't proclaim that I'm nothing at my core.

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I like what you said about it being a "clear view."  The longer I am out, the clearer it gets.  Looking back there are so many things about it, that are so ridiculous, I can't believe it took me so long to figure it all out.  Goes to show how deep that childhood conditioning can run.

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16 hours ago, Weezer said:

.  Looking back there are so many things about it, that are so ridiculous, I can't believe it took me so long to figure it all out.  Goes to show how deep that childhood conditioning can run.

 

Exactly, many of the questions that eventually led me out of Christianity were questions I could have easily asked when I was ten years old. Why didn't I think of them then? It just goes to show that when every adult around you believes something, then it's automatically real - and you're conditioned to not even think about it. I didn't even know what the word agnostic meant until I turned 19. Everyone I knew growing up was Christian, went to church, and said the same things. I thought that atheists were people who were removed from normal society like Madalyn Murray O' Hair, who appeared on TV  and debated Christians. I had no idea that atheists were just normal people - people who could be sitting next to you in the pew every Sunday.

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3 hours ago, Singular40 said:

 

Exactly, many of the questions that eventually led me out of Christianity were questions I could have easily asked when I was ten years old. Why didn't I think of them then? It just goes to show that when every adult around you believes something, then it's automatically real - and you're conditioned to not even think about it. I didn't even know what the word agnostic meant until I turned 19. Everyone I knew growing up was Christian, went to church, and said the same things. I thought that atheists were people who were removed from normal society like Madalyn Murray O' Hair, who appeared on TV  and debated Christians. I had no idea that atheists were just normal people - people who could be sitting next to you in the pew every Sunday.

You're conditioned to not question. And youre conditioned to demonize atheists. And when you finally wake up and realize where you've been the levels of anger and disillusionment can be quite something. I remember sitting through the last worship service after I had left the church, when I was still keeping up the pretense of believing. It was one of the most difficult things I've done. 

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On 2/17/2018 at 1:22 AM, Weezer said:

I will attempt to attach my story.  Warning.  It is long and may put you to sleep.  If you don't want to read about my childhood, skip down to the section I believe is called, "Beginning the questioning".

SEEKING TRUTH.odt

 

Weezer, I really enjoyed reading this document. It was an incredibly worthwhile read for me. There is so much I can relate to here. Thank you so much for sharing! The conditioning is the only reason I think people take Christianity so seriously. The intellectual arguments aren't that compelling from the outside. They're only compelling from the context of a believer. If all of us weren't conditioned and manipulated emotionally, I believe Christianity would have died centuries ago.

 

On 2/25/2018 at 7:37 PM, Singular40 said:

Exactly, many of the questions that eventually led me out of Christianity were questions I could have easily asked when I was ten years old. Why didn't I think of them then? It just goes to show that when every adult around you believes something, then it's automatically real - and you're conditioned to not even think about it.

 

Exactly! I was always given the impression that I'm not educated enough to ask questions and that God would somehow be mad at me for questioning him. I also was taught that that the philosophical questions related to God's nature and existence did not really matter because I had a real relationship with him and could feel him and that should suffice to be convinced of his existence. I was also haunted by Pascal's Wager for a long time in my life, terrified of the possibility of eternal conscious torment. I now know it's not a very good argument, but at the time it seemed pretty convincing. Anyways, the point is that I felt that God had it all figured out and I just needed to make sure I was doing all that I could to please him. That is what I believed our whole purpose was in life - to bring him pleasure.

 

A lot of this stuff sounds like childish questions to me now. In nursing school, I have learned and continue to learn a lot about psychological models of human development. The relationship between man and God reminds me of one of the stages in Kohlberg's stages of moral development. There are six stages total, and stage three is known as the "good boy/good girl" orientation, which basically consists of conforming to rules of a parental figure in order to receive approval and avoid disapproval by the parent. This orientation usually occurs in school-age children before they develop to understand morality in terms of social-contracts and abstract principals like "justice", "equity", and so on in adolescence and adulthood. It's interesting to see the moral development of many believers appear to be stunted in relation to God.

 

One thing I find really interesting to see is my eleven year old sister start to ask really intelligent questions about God.  At a supper I shared with my family about two months ago, she asked about the dimensions of God and where he came from. She asked how big he is, if anything is bigger than God, and who created God before God created everything. It was actually kind of funny to me to see my parents get frustrated because they could not give her satisfactory answers. I tried really hard not to laugh and just sat quietly without getting involved. I don't think they had thought about it much. She kept asking "why" after the answers they gave and it just increased their irritation. "Why? So what did God do before he made us?" The final answers were basically "God has always existed" and "it's just the way it is". I can tell that's not what my sister wanted to hear. I love to see how curious and skeptical she is already. I wish I asked questions like that at her age!

 

 

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I haven't finished reading it yet, but I know a good bit about where you're coming from. But the problem may be that you were in one of those liberal churches of Christ! If you'd been in a conservative CoC you'd have never questioned your faith! (That's a joke. I grew up in among the "antis.")

 

Not surprisingly, there are "non-institutional" CoCs that think they're they only ones in town that are right, and that the other NI churches are liberal. And now I see there are people in mainline CoCs that refer to themselves as "sound" congregations, as opposed to some of the other mainline churches whom they now consider to be liberal!

 

The NI church I was a member of for almost 30 years had an elder who was a former elder at a mainline church. He decided they were too liberal the day they sang "Happy Birthday" to the preacher during the service. When he came over to our church, he accepted the non-institutional positions (no support of secular institutions like orphan's homes from the church treasury, etc.)

 

Some of the things I thought were wrong with CoC teaching when I was still a believer were abstinence from alcohol (figured that one out on a 3-week Wednesday night series on drinking, where the preacher said it was an absolute no-no and I realized his points didn't prove anything), and what I call "baptism for the remission of sins for the remission of sins." CoC says salvation is at the point of baptism, which they have good scriptural evidence for, BUT they teach that you can follow the "5 steps" and still be lost if you thought you were saved before you were baptized. I don't think they even understand what they're saying! But I feel foolish even discussing it now, because it's all bullshit anyway. It's amazing how hard it is to quit thinking about how their doctrine is wrong, even when you know there are no such things as gods and that none of it matters. I just can't get it out of my head sometimes.

 

Anyway, I'll try to finish your article later. Good to have you here!

 

ADDENDUM:

I still haven't finished, but your point about Peter and "scripture inspired by God" where the NT hadn't even been canonized yet: What "inerrantists" believe is that God could have made it perfect, therefore he would have. God could have had the writers use their own thoughts and still made sure they said everything he wanted them to say, therefore he did. They do not look for "book, chapter, and verse" on this, even though CoC doctrine claims to "speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent." I've never actually heard anyone say "God could have, therefore he would have," but that's exactly the logical conclusion one would have to reach based on what they do teach. The Catholic Church gave us the Bible, and they don't believe that Catholics are saved or that the Catholic Church is even "The Church," yet they believe that God used the RCC to give us the Bible he wanted us to have, rather than believing that the Catholics chose the texts that best supported what they themselves were teaching and left out stuff that was contrary. Solo scriptura actually has no place in Christianity, as the scriptures were merely considered a small part of the traditions. I guess it was Martin Luther who started that nonsense. Not that he wasn't justified in condemning indulgences, but he championed the idea that "everything that pertains to life and godliness" meant the Bible, and not the Church.

 

But hey, I'm an atheist! It doesn't matter to me! (Only for my own mental health I need to convince my preacher son that the CoC aren't the only ones being saved.) (If you didn't know, I'm in the closet. My attempt at coming out didn't go well.)

 

Anyway, thanks for giving us a lot to think about. Hope I didn't hijack your thread.

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On 3/8/2018 at 7:21 PM, superbrady said:

 The relationship between man and God reminds me of one of the stages in Kohlberg's stages of moral development. 

 

 

Superbrady, I first heard Kohlbergs stages when in graduate school.  It really helped me put some pieces of the puzzle together.  Do you find fundamentalists are often stuck in level 3, or 4?  If I remember correctly, level 4 is the law and order stage.  If you, or someone else haven't already posted those 6 stages somewhere on the site, it might be helpful.  I remember the instructor saying that the level 4 people try to get rid of those who advance above level 4.  He gave the example of Jesus.

 

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9 hours ago, Lerk said:

 But the problem may be that you were in one of those liberal churches of Christ!

 Hope I didn't hijack your thread.

 

No, you didnt hijack the thread.

 

HA!  We considered ourselves to be the "true" church.   The antis were going to heaven, but were unenlightened.  The liberals were in danger of going to Hell.  Isn't it interesting that wherever someone is on the conservative/liberal continuum, they think they are in just the right place?

 

In later years we did go to a liberal CofC that some churches didn't fellowship.  The last church we attended was liberal Mennonite.  I had a lot of respect for them due to their support of humanitarian programs.

 

Your mention of singing happy birthday reminded me of a situation I found interesting back in the day.  The elders got bent out of shape because someone brought in a piano to use at a wedding.  I told them it wasn't during the worship service,  so what was the problem?  They said if someone saw them bringing it in, they might think we used it in worship!

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I am both sad & embarrassed now that I ever got involved in the Church of Christ. My wife and I were Baptist that became involved in the c of C thru a Bible study. There is a certain logic in their methods that is based on the  Bible being the inerrant word of God. If someone believes the Bible is the inerrant word of God that makes you vulnerable to their logic.

 

Years later I was trained to conduct Bible studies and I brought many a Baptist into the c of C. The study uses leading questions with predetermined scriptures. It is very effective. My first question with a prospect was, "Do you believe the Bible is the innerant word of God?" If they said yes, it was easy to convert them. I never failed to Baptize a prospect into the c of C.

 

To get out of the c of C my first step was to examine the Bible from a historical perspective. I had to find absolute proof that the Bible is not the inerrant word of God, and I was surprised to discover how easy that is to do. After doing that atheism was the only option left. Unfortunately it took me 27 years to get a clue that the Bible is seriously flawed & that is obvious if you are't reading it thru the lens of an indoctrinated mind. :49:

 

 

 

 

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11 hours ago, Weezer said:

 

Superbrady, I first heard Kohlbergs stages when in graduate school.  It really helped me put some pieces of the puzzle together.  Do you find fundamentalists are often stuck in level 3, or 4?  If I remember correctly, level 4 is the law and order stage.  If you, or someone else haven't already posted those 6 stages somewhere on the site, it might be helpful.  I remember the instructor saying that the level 4 people try to get rid of those who advance above level 4.  He gave the example of Jesus.

 

 

I think it really depends on the denomination. Some Christian denominations are really stringent with established church of Biblical rules (level 4) and others are a bit more relaxed, emphasizing the relationship with Christ and listening to what he tells you individually (level 3). I think that, personally, I was in level 3 as a Christian, as I convinced myself that I could "feel" the approval or disapproval of Jesus when I did good or wrong. It's interesting how my misperception of complicated bodily phenomena dictated so much of my life for so many years, looking back. I feel like I "simulated" Jesus in my own mind to fill in the gaps when I felt excitement or the weight of disappointment for some reason. Excited at a Christian rock concert or at a church service? Must be Jesus stirring in my heart. Parents mad at me again? I feel bad so it must be Jesus causing me to see the folly of my ways and to feel that I need repentance. Religious experience for me was ultimately never about religious law to better society... it was about pleasing my imaginary friend that I thought was Jesus. Fortunately, I never felt like it was my responsibility to tell others what to do based on previous divine commands in the Bible, though I'd probably say that morality is determined by God. I just wanted to please who I thought Jesus was.

 

And you are correct in that level 4 is essentially the law and order stage and that it all rests upon submissiveness to rules. And I also think the instructor is right, that Jesus is a good representative of level 4 morality and that level 4 people feel threatened by people who are at higher levels of moral development. It makes sense... most Christians feel that the "objective" morality of God is binding regardless of culture or geography (though God and Christ dictating a moral system would make it subjective). And the next level above, level 5, is the level in which you realize that rules governing society and life are at least somewhat relative and flexible, varying from culture to culture and from religion to religion. I found a couple useful graphics in chart form, one from Wikipedia and one from a psychology site for students, that sum up the major characteristics of each step in Kohlberg's theory for anyone who is interested. I attached them to this post. 

 

 

Kohlberg_stages_-_large.gif

kolberg-1-550x382.png

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Superb, thanks for posting those!

Down through the years I lost my notes from the lecture.

 

While I am thinking about it, what does the stimmed cup with the handles icon represent?  Hope i am using it correctly.

 

Geezer, where did you get the old man icon you use?  I would like to use that, or something similar on a motorcycle forum I belong to.

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On 3/10/2018 at 9:21 PM, Weezer said:

Superb, thanks for posting those!

Down through the years I lost my notes from the lecture.

 

While I am thinking about it, what does the stimmed cup with the handles icon represent?  Hope i am using it correctly.

 

Geezer, where did you get the old man icon you use?  I would like to use that, or something similar on a motorcycle forum I belong to.

 

If you're calling yourself "Weezer," should you not use a picture of Buddy Holly?

 

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7 hours ago, Lerk said:

 

If you're calling yourself "Weezer," should you not use a picture of Buddy Holly?

 

 

Did he have that nickname?

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