VerbosityCat

I feel like my family would be happier if Christianity hadn't come along

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I deconverted 20 years ago, and I don't think it will ever stop being frustrating dealing with fundamentalist family members who think I'm going to hell because I don't think like they do. I really think the world would have been much better off without Christianity. In that alternate reality my family would be celebrating Yule as Yule instead of calling it Christmas and bringing a bunch of excess nonsense into it. My family would know OUR myths and stories that came from our ancestors rather than identifying with stories from the bible that have nothing to do with them. 

 

But Christianity did happen. And here we are. I'm trying to be okay with it.

 

I don't like organized religion at all. Not just Christianity. It just feels too forced. And I don't really appreciate some other random boob telling me what the "right way to be xyz" is. Or telling me what to believe or how to think or how or if to pray and giving me a list of things I must do and not do. My experience in the world has been the more "religious" somebody is (and it doesn't really matter the religion) the more obnoxious, judgmental, condescending, generally hateful they are. There is also that layer of "fake" on top of them. Like everything is artifice.

 

I just want to be a semi-normal person who can interact and engage with other people in the world.

 

I would describe myself as "spiritual but not religious". I'm not interested in a religious "label" because it just traps you in a fixed point of view where you feel obligated to defend a position you may later outgrow. That said, I prefer the gods of my ancestors (before Christian conversion) as well as their myths. I feel at home in a more "pagan" way of looking at the world, though I am not a  personal fan of organized "neopaganism".  Nor reconstructist paganism. There is way too much dogmatic nonsense floating around and so much "you aren't a real x if you do or don't do y." I neither want to deal with the fluffy people who think they are practicing an "ancient tradition" that is really 70 years old, nor do I want to deal with racists who have decided to use my ancestral gods as a reason to hate black people.

 

So that took a weird side trail but that's me more or less.

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(also, I don't mean to imply that all reconstructionists are racists. They definitely are not, but there is that element to navigate and I would rather not have to wonder every time I start a conversation if this person hates people who aren't white or is going to get into some weird obsessive thing about black people praying to Thor. I honestly don't give a crap who prays to Thor. It's not my business and doesn't affect me)

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12 minutes ago, Cat987 said:

(also, I don't mean to imply that all reconstructionists are racists. They definitely are not, but there is that element to navigate and I would rather not have to wonder every time I start a conversation if this person hates people who aren't white or is going to get into some weird obsessive thing about black people praying to Thor. I honestly don't give a crap who prays to Thor. It's not my business and doesn't affect me)

 

I've always enjoyed reading Norse mythology, myself! Welcome aboard!

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7 minutes ago, Tsathoggua9 said:

 

I've always enjoyed reading Norse mythology, myself! Welcome aboard!

 

Thanks! The thing I love most about the myths is that the gods have their own apocalypse where most of them die. I mean who writes that? I really love the poetry and symmetry of the whole thing. The first time I read a version of the norse myths, I thought "yes. this belongs to me." And immediately after that I was sad that those weren't the stories I was raised on. I mean how awesome would it have been to be hearing about the time Thor lost his hammer and had to dress up like a woman to get it back instead of Noah's ark. Every single one of the myths that was preserved I can see the sense in it and the meaning behind it and how it relates to me... the bible stories were like... WTF???? Just a bunch of sadistic insanity.

 

I don't' get the people who are like "Odin is so scary"... REALLY??? You're praying to the desert psychopath (biblegod in case we weren't clear) and you're concerned Odin isn't your Beck and Call dude. (Because that's all I can figure... unpredictable character, doesn't do whatever you tell him to do. How scary. Seems admirable to me. Like something to emulate.)

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4 minutes ago, Cat987 said:

 

Thanks! The thing I love most about the myths is that the gods have their own apocalypse where most of them die. I mean who writes that? I really love the poetry and symmetry of the whole thing. The first time I read a version of the norse myths, I thought "yes. this belongs to me." And immediately after that I was sad that those weren't the stories I was raised on. I mean how awesome would it have been to be hearing about the time Thor lost his hammer and had to dress up like a woman to get it back instead of Noah's ark. Every single one of the myths that was preserved I can see the sense in it and the meaning behind it and how it relates to me... the bible stories were like... WTF???? Just a bunch of sadistic insanity.

 

I don't' get the people who are like "Odin is so scary"... REALLY??? You're praying to the desert psychopath (biblegod in case we weren't clear) and you're concerned Odin isn't your Beck and Call dude. (Because that's all I can figure... unpredictable character, doesn't do whatever you tell him to do. How scary. Seems admirable to me. Like something to emulate.)

 

Oh yeah, Thor and his big daddy are much cooler than "Jehovah and Son", fer sure.

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18 minutes ago, Tsathoggua9 said:

 

Oh yeah, Thor and his big daddy are much cooler than "Jehovah and Son", fer sure.

 

 

LOLOLOL  Thor is someone you'd want to have a beer and throw darts with. This is all the reason I need to know my ancestors were forcibly converted. I mean who goes from that to the joyless jehovah asshole?

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3 minutes ago, Cat987 said:

 

 

LOLOLOL  Thor is someone you'd want to have a beer and throw darts with. This is all the reason I need to know my ancestors were forcibly converted. I mean who goes from that to the joyless jehovah asshole?

 

I'm afraid his hammer would trump any darts that I could find, but yeah, I agree! Thor would be fun to party with, fer sure!

Jehovah was definitely a downgrade in terms of deity.  Sad!

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11 minutes ago, Tsathoggua9 said:

 

I'm afraid his hammer would trump any darts that I could find, but yeah, I agree! Thor would be fun to party with, fer sure!

Jehovah was definitely a downgrade in terms of deity.  Sad!

 

Ha!

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5 hours ago, Cat987 said:

In that alternate reality my family would be celebrating Yule as Yule instead of calling it Christmas and bringing a bunch of excess nonsense into it. My family would know OUR myths and stories that came from our ancestors rather than identifying with stories from the bible that have nothing to do with them. 

 

It was very interesting to read your post, particularly this part. I'll save you the trouble of digging up my ex-timony from half a decade ago: long story short I was raised Hindu, became an evangelical Christian in college, and then deconverted because I felt an obligation to practice the faith of my family and ancestors. So in a sense, I am living precisely what you have always wished for.

 

On the one hand, I'll be the first to admit that Hinduism is utterly ridiculous in many respects. Hindus believe in all sorts of superstitious nonsense which would make creationism seem reasonable by comparison. For example, an uncomfortable number of modern day Hindus believe that the flying chariots of the gods referenced in our mythology are in fact spaceships invented by our ancestors, the existence of which was covered up by Western invaders. Yes, this is an actual superstition that my people believe. As a professional scientist (my field is astrophysics), well, let's just say this is a belief I cannot even respect.

 

And yet...on the other hand I am happy to align myself with the intellectually vacuous dogma of my ancestors as opposed to the dogma of a bunch of Western Europeans (I mean no animus towards Caucasians, I merely state my wish to not fantasize that I am one of them). Today I practice the rituals of my own culture, I celebrate my own holidays, and I immerse myself in my own traditions instead of those of Christianity, which is fundamentally a Western European religion. I appreciate Western culture and believe it has positively contributed to human history in many ways - probably more ways than my own -  but it is not my culture and I am happy to not falsely associate myself with it.

 

I suppose I am lucky to be part of a culture which happens to have maintained its distinctiveness from Christianity over the centuries. Many other cultures, particularly those in the West, have been absorbed by Christianity. The various religious groups of Europe - maligned as "pagans" by the Christians of Rome - essentially ceased to exist, and it would be hard to resurrect these faiths in modern times. I suppose the most that an ex-Christian of European descent can do is hold fast to those traditions which survived the Christianization of Europe, and to expunge the Christian elements as much as possible. Holidays such as Christmas and Easter have many elements which are decidently non-Christian. While you cannot fully re-integrate them with their original context, it is still easy to see that they do not fit with Biblical narrative, and to celebrate the fact that they survived Christian conquest.

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Hi  Bhim! Okay a lot to unpack here. First, I completely appreciate what you are saying! And I agree, you should honor your own culture. You are lucky that Hinduism has maintained its distinctness. Though I also think in many ways Hinduism has "reacted against" Christianity. Until they learn I'm a hard polytheist many Hindus have tried to make their religion sound more more monotheistic. (I believe in everybody's gods lol. I just think it is part of each people/culture's group ancestral soul. It's hard to explain and I'm not saying I am "right", it's just how I visualize things.) One of the things that has happened in Hinduism is many Hindus feel there is almost some kind of "shame" in many gods and try to look more like monotheism. I get the concept of Brahma and definitely I think there is a sense in which everything is connected and all soul/consciousness is ultimately part of one supersoul but that to me doesn't change the experience we are all having right now.

 

To get a tiny bit woo woo on you, while I don't believe literally in any particular ideology since I believe we are all laughably wrong about things, I definitely do believe there is something after. I find much of the NDE research just way too convincing. I respect many have their own non-spiritual explanations for these experiences but just like many atheists don't find the bible convincing, I don't find those explanations convincing as I've done more than just a casual look into the NDE. (expunging the few "christian testimonies"related to NDEs which are so far off from everyone else's experience that I think they didn't have it and are making it up to be trendy or convert people to Christianity, People who have NDEs generally leave organized religion and those that "meet god" say he/she/it doesn't want or need to be worshipped and is not judging anybody. We could argue all day about if that's true why is there evil in the world, and that's a whole different way too long discussion but I don't believe even "big god" is "all powerful", nor do I believe there is a lot of "interfering with this reality" for whatever reason. Part of it is I think we are all literally part of god and there is some value to this experience that we don't fully see from this perspective inside it.)

 

Something I very much appreciate about my ancestors' belief system was... they believed in reincarnation (There is a common root between Hinduism and the European pagan traditions. And as much as I won't "Hinduize" my beliefs, I also am able to draw on that common indo-european core to fill in some theoretical gaps.) But the norse believed that incarnating here was an honor and a gift. It wasn't considered some kind of punishment.

 

As far as everything being lost. You could make that argument for a lot of the European pagan religions but you might be surprised by how much can be reconstructed and how much wasn't lost. This is particularly true in the norse/germanic religion but it's true to greater and lesser degrees with several others. After all there is a Greek, a Roman, and a Celtic reconstructionism. One benefit was the norse were never as Christianized as everyone else. Much of the same faith was practiced by Germanic tribes across much of Europe including what is now England and France and Germany.  And of course the vikings made a HUGE impact and had many settlements. Many who think they are Irish are really more Viking than anything. (Obviously the Vikings weren't a distinct people, this is just what we call the particular group of people from the Nordic countries who well... well Vikings LOL. A lot of that was retaliation against Christianization.)The gods had slightly different names but the overall mythological structure was the same across much of Europe. There would have been a lot of regional differences (in some cases that's a boon because it's almost certain I'm closer to the mark than I think sometimes.)

 

Many who follow the germanic gods use the germanic names they know and the norse for the rest. I use the norse because for whatever reason Odin resonates more with me than Woden. The latter just feels "off" to me. Not "wrong", just not familiar. (Along with that ancestral soul thing, my second bit of woo woo (or maybe my third) is that I believe in ancestral memory. that on some level some part of us remembers who we are and where we come from. And it is IMO why so many hippie white people are really into celebrating the solstices and equinoxes even if they aren't pagan. This is just something I don't think can really be fully taken from us. Because it is who we are.)

 

Though Europe was Christianized and much was lost and destroyed, when it came to Europe Christianity was very Germanized at the same time. So yeah, sorry this is so many words. I just appreciate the ability to talk with someone who 'gets it" because I really think you do. At the end of the day what matters more to me is the things that have made it out of the fire and honoring my ancestors by keeping it alive. I don't think as Christianity fades away in the west that people are going to go back to the old gods of Europe, but... I DO think the increasing secularization of our holidays IS Pagan. So much of what is called secular is pagan. I think if people step outside of the Christian mindset and way of doing everything and thinking, they would see how much really was preserved and how little is lost in the most important way because it is what is inside us and part of us.

 

You are definitely lucky Hinduism was able to hold its ground and your culture was not destroyed (though Christians are making attempts now in "nicer" ways), but even if it had been, there would still be a core of the Hindu identity to draw from and rebuild. Your people made it the first time and they would be able to make some version of it again.

 

Oh and as for "utterly ridiculous in many respects" anything can be ridiculous if a ridiculous person practices it. There is always a more nuanced way to look at things and always a more metaphorical way. No matter the religion there will always be superstitious nitwits who take everything literally. And I might be a little too "woo woo" for you lol, but I can't help that I DO believe there is something bigger beyond this life.  Also, at least the spaceship thing is creative.

 

Even though it isn't "mine", I do yoga, and love love love the mantras and music.

 

re: the dogma of a bunch of western Europeans (no, I totally get what you're saying. Though when I look at Christianity I see "a foreign desert religion that was superimposed on us" lol) with no actual animus toward people from the desert, it's just not who my ancestors were. I think this is part of why Christianity in the west is so damn schizophrenic. It is constantly coming into conflict with a natural paganism (with or without "beliefs" in things like gods), that wants to reassert itself. And I use the term pagan even though it was an insult because there really is no other term. My ancestors had no label for what they practiced, which is one reason I don't like the idea of having one. I don't want to be put in a box or what I've always seen as a more organic spirituality, turned into fundamentalist dogma.

 

As for contributions, there are two specific ways that are relevant to my life that Hindus have contributed to my culture. 1. By just existing as that indo-european link that Christianity did not conquer.  2. Yoga. I know these seem like small things but you have no idea how many westerners are grateful to have yoga in their life as well as the generosity with which it has been shared with us.

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1 hour ago, Cat987 said:

 

 

To get a tiny bit woo woo on you, while I don't believe literally in any particular ideology since I believe we are all laughably wrong about things, I definitely do believe there is something after. I find much of the NDE research just way too convincing. I respect many have their own non-spiritual explanations for these experiences but just like many atheists don't find the bible convincing, I don't find those explanations convincing as I've done more than just a casual look into the NDE. (expunging the few "christian testimonies"related to NDEs which are so far off from everyone else's experience that I think they didn't have it and are making it up to be trendy or convert people to Christianity, People who have NDEs generally leave organized religion and those that "meet god" say he/she/it doesn't want or need to be worshipped and is not judging anybody. We could argue all day about if that's true why is there evil in the world, and that's a whole different way too long discussion but I don't believe even "big god" is "all powerful", nor do I believe there is a lot of "interfering with this reality" for whatever reason. Part of it is I think we are all literally part of god and there is some value to this experience that we don't fully see from this perspective inside it.)

 

 

 

I agree with you about NDE research. It can be very compelling! I don't consider it to be rock-solid proof of an afterlife, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was one! Fascinating stuff, for sure!

 

1 hour ago, Cat987 said:

 

 

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2 hours ago, Tsathoggua9 said:

 

I agree with you about NDE research. It can be very compelling! I don't consider it to be rock-solid proof of an afterlife, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was one! Fascinating stuff, for sure!

 

 

 

Compelling is a good word for it. I'm not like a "true believer" or anything, but I do think people who totally disregard and don't consider it just don't really want to for whatever reason and that's fine. I get it. There are a lot of good reasons for someone not to even go down that rabbit hole at all. Not least of which is the fundie Christians who have decided to cash in on this trend and make up crap about hell and how their NDE brought them back to organized Christianity. I say they are lying simply because out of thousands and thousands of these things being studied, they are NEVER supportive of any conventional organized religion no matter how traditionalist in any given religion the person who had the experience was.

 

An NDE that 100% confirms an organized religion and where the person with the "testimony" has just conveniently (supposedly) "come back to Jesus". Yeah that's all kinds of suspicious. I can see the absolute value in just dismissing it all out of hand. After all, if NDEs ARE legit, the overwhelming evidence is that "what you believe about shit" is NOT the reason you are here, so whatever anybody believes or doesn't believe has no bearing on anything. And a lot of times ANY religion or spirituality can get in the way. (If it makes you dogmatic or hateful toward other people it's less a tool for growth and more a barrier. IMO.)

 

But yeah, I do find them fascinating. And it does give me "hope" of something after. So i can sort of relax and live my life, if that makes sense. I will say the "God" people have met is one I could actually have respect for. And it does seem like the beginning of people's NDE's they see a being that is culturally relevant to them (or a family member that has passed on if they weren't religious.) I personally want to see the norse gods. haha. How cool would that be? Even if they aren't some objective reality and just something that my mind has created in that moment of crossover. It would be way better than Jesus.

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1 hour ago, Cat987 said:

I personally want to see the norse gods. haha. How cool would that be? Even if they aren't some objective reality and just something that my mind has created in that moment of crossover. It would be way better than Jesus.

 

Yeah, having Thor -- or, even better, Freya or one of the Valkyries -- escort me into the afterlife would be coolness, personified!

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21 minutes ago, Tsathoggua9 said:

 

Yeah, having Thor -- or, even better, Freya or one of the Valkyries -- escort me into the afterlife would be coolness, personified!

 

ha! Better start believing in the old gods to set the odds in your favor then :P Theoretically this could work with anything. You could start setting an intention to see a magical unicorn. Or leprechauns! Or santa claus! I'm pretty sure this is very malleable. :)

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I also feel like my family would have been happier if certain religions/people did not exist. My dad ended up becoming a crazed scholar of a hellfire-and-brimstone puritan theologian named Johnathan Edwards (he wrote "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God") and cut off a lot of people, including myself, for reasons pertaining to Edwards' teaching (he decided we are what Edwards describes as 'unelect' - people who were created specifically for the purpose of going to hell and suffer for eternity for God's glory and for whom no goodness or forgiveness or salvation is possible). It's such a horrifying belief system, and I think he used it to cut his family apart. I wish Edwards never existed. To this day I feel like some long dead theologian robbed a father from me.

 

I know, intellectually, that the problem with my family is bigger than that; The problem is my father's pathological narcissism. If Edwards never existed he would have found some other writer or thinker who would have justified cutting away anyone who didn't serve his ego. Edwards sure didn't help, though!

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12 hours ago, DestinyTurtle said:

I also feel like my family would have been happier if certain religions/people did not exist. My dad ended up becoming a crazed scholar of a hellfire-and-brimstone puritan theologian named Johnathan Edwards (he wrote "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God") and cut off a lot of people, including myself, for reasons pertaining to Edwards' teaching (he decided we are what Edwards describes as 'unelect' - people who were created specifically for the purpose of going to hell and suffer for eternity for God's glory and for whom no goodness or forgiveness or salvation is possible). It's such a horrifying belief system, and I think he used it to cut his family apart. I wish Edwards never existed. To this day I feel like some long dead theologian robbed a father from me.

 

I know, intellectually, that the problem with my family is bigger than that; The problem is my father's pathological narcissism. If Edwards never existed he would have found some other writer or thinker who would have justified cutting away anyone who didn't serve his ego. Edwards sure didn't help, though!

 

Hey, yeah, I've heard of "Sinners in the hands of an angry god". It's fucking horrific. I don't understand what is wrong with people that they would want to worship a god like that.  And what kind of psycho believes a god worthy of worship would create people specifically for the purpose of going to hell to suffer for eternity. How does this enhance "god's glory". That's just batshit. And you're probably right re: your father would have found another writer or thinker to justify his actions.

 

I do think though, if Christianity hadn't come along, my family would be following a far more pagan way of life (not in the neo-pagan sense but in like... a normal person who is connected to the myths and folklore of their actual people/ancestors instead of foreign stupid shit from the desert that has nothing to do with them... maybe a lot more "secular" which to me always reads as pretty "pagan".) But yeah, I have to just get over it.

 

It's just difficult at times to think "we gave up THIS for THAT?" Like the norse gods weren't running around commanding people all the time and ordering them around. They might check out what was going on, maybe show favor to this person or that person but never running around slaughtering people or ordering people around or demanding to be worshipped. I mean christianity and biblegod really are just batshit. Even the creation myths. In the bible you have the man made first and the woman made from a piece of him so she can be there as a "companion" for the man. She basically is created to please the guy. Then she's tempted into disobedience and tempts the man, and now she's the villain causing the whole world to "fall". She gets punished with painful childbirth and now the man rules over her and they're going to die and basically the earth is just one big punishment from this sin.

 

By contrast in the norse myth, the man and woman are made pretty much at the same time though the woman is mentioned first. They are made from two different type of trees and are each full beings in and of themselves. Neither is made to rule over the other. Odin doesn't give any orders or make them "obey him" he just gives them names, puts his cloak around the woman's shoulders, and the man is meant to protect the woman for all time. And they go off holding hands into the world (which is made as a safe place for Humans to live. I mean safe is relative, there are frost giants in this mythology.) But the point is... it would have just been much healthier to be raised with THAT mythology than the insane biblegod shit.

 

On the positive side, there is a pastor from like 1851 I think was the year that I could just go back in time to kiss because he is the one who popularized the "Christmas Tree" (or rather, brought back the yule tree and called it a christmas tree. A lot of people said it was "too pagan" and of course they were right, but if it wasn't for this guy, the tradition of the Yule tree would have been lost to history. But because of him, it's a main feature of the holiday season.)

 

I should just be glad I got out and found better stories.

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