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Will I ever lose sight of this mental house?


nontheistpilgrim
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It was Valerie Tarico in The Dark Side who wrote 'In childhood and adolescence, each of us spends years building a world view, a mental house that we can live in comfortably for the rest of our lives..... it's rather unusual for an adult to go back and re-excavate the foundation'.

My upbringing, followed by training and years in ministry, was fundamentalist. There was a saying in my church "if you fill the pulpit with degrees you will empty the church by degrees". I left school at 15 with two GCE’s.

As I got older I was forced to interact with christians who had very different beliefs from my own but my core group remained quite conservative.

Then I got degrees.

Then I retired and asked lots of questions.

Thankfully I was someone who re-excavated foundations.

That was fifteen years ago when I was in my mid-sixties.

But the mental house is still in view. I am glad I no longer live in it but I can't erase it from my memory. To some extent I have become an angry young man; every mention of the 'g' word makes my hackles rise. I feel as if I should grow up, build a new mental house.

Is it really this difficult?

 

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3 hours ago, nontheistpilgrim said:

It was Valerie Tarico in The Dark Side who wrote 'In childhood and adolescence, each of us spends years building a world view, a mental house that we can live in comfortably for the rest of our lives..... it's rather unusual for an adult to go back and re-excavate the foundation'.

 

My upbringing, followed by training and years in ministry, was fundamentalist. There was a saying in my church "if you fill the pulpit with degrees you will empty the church by degrees". I left school at 15 with two GCE’s.

 

As I got older I was forced to interact with christians who had very different beliefs from my own but my core group remained quite conservative.

 

Then I got degrees.

 

Then I retired and asked lots of questions.

 

Thankfully I was someone who re-excavated foundations.

 

That was fifteen years ago when I was in my mid-sixties.

 

But the mental house is still in view. I am glad I no longer live in it but I can't erase it from my memory. To some extent I have become an angry young man; every mention of the 'g' word makes my hackles rise. I feel as if I should grow up, build a new mental house.

 

Is it really this difficult?

 

 

 

I wish to address your points one by one:

 

".....each of us spends years building a world view, a mental house that we can live in comfortably for the rest of our lives..... it's rather unusual for an adult to go back and re-excavate the foundation'"    absolutely true.

 

"As I got older I was forced to interact with Christians who had very different beliefs from my own but my core group remained quite conservative.

Then I got degrees."     It was easier for me at that age since I never got entrenched in conservative Christianity. or fundamentalism.

 

"Then I retired and asked lots of questions. Thankfully I was someone who re-excavated foundations." you might say:: thankfully you became someone who asked a lot of questions. and started re-excavating your  foundation to build a new one.

 

"But the mental house is still in view. I am glad I no longer live in it but I can't erase it from my memory. To some extent I have become an angry young man; every mention of the 'g' word makes my hackles rise. I feel as if I should grow up, build a new mental house."  The problem is simply that you have not finished building your new foundation IMO..

 

2,300 years ago when Greek mythology and their gods were revered by maybe half of the civilized Mediterranean world at that time, should a child have been mad at his parents or society for forcing the Greek gods upon him? No, he should have just secretly laughed about the stupidity of such beliefs. None of the people involved were intending to do any harm; they just didn't know any better, right?

 

"Is it really this difficult?" No, silently laughing at such things can be an easy-to-learn technique to complete your new foundation. I'm sure this new jovial, silent-laughing at such stupidity (all religions like Greek mythology) is a  healthy and pleasent technique to learn compared to the unhealthy and unhappy alternative of allowing your hackles to rise, right?  :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Conscious programming is easier to overcome than the deeper childlike assumptions we cling to in the subconscious. I find that this is largely fear-based, probably as an evolutionary adaptation for survival. If a significant person says X is important for survival, then it gets stored in a place that is harder to reprogram. 

 

I've been forcing myself to face fears, not always successfully. I avoided my high school reunion this year out of fears of the old bullies, even though I went 10 years ago and it was fine. We are nearly 60 now and they and I have changed. But I still made excuses not to go. Irrational fear is a deep and stupid thing. I see it motivating politics now in ways I never imagined it would, but there it is in living color. My own subconscious will bring up things for me to face, almost as a self-check. So I get to face them and deal with them little by little. I've even used psychedelics to fast-track bringing up hidden things and then mulling them for months afterward. 

 

The cult is toxic to our well-being. I remember a few kids in church that even tried to believe, but in the end just couldn't accept the programming. Sadly, I bought into it and craved more. For me, the cultural approval of an institution of nicely dressed people that shared my imaginary world was delicious emotionally. So it took a major smack emotionally to get me to question it and ultimately reject it. Then came 15 years so far of undoing the assumptions. I've mostly achieved that, but when I see the hardcore evangelicals and their politics now, THAT gets me riled because they want to force the kingdom of their insane bloodthirsty god on everyone and call it good. 

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One of my challenges is that most of my immediate family are still practicing Christians, some very actively involved in their churches (thankfully not fundies), one has just been appointed to a senior position in the denomination: in a sense they are living in my mental house, or perhaps next door. I can respect their beliefs which I agree are stupid but I don't want to be seen to laugh. They are not unintelligent by any means. I admire what some of them are doing in terms of work in the community either through their churches or independently.

Pantheory: I agree that I am still building my new foundation. But I ask " how long and why so difficult?"

Silently laughing may be a way forward. I suppose that if I can hide my hackles I could learn to hide my smile?

 

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3 hours ago, nontheistpilgrim said:

One of my challenges is that most of my immediate family are still practicing Christians, some very actively involved in their churches (thankfully not fundies), one has just been appointed to a senior position in the denomination: in a sense they are living in my mental house, or perhaps next door. I can respect their beliefs which I agree are stupid but I don't want to be seen to laugh. They are not unintelligent by any means. I admire what some of them are doing in terms of work in the community either through their churches or independently.

Pantheory: I agree that I am still building my new foundation. But I ask " how long and why so difficult?"

Silently laughing may be a way forward. I suppose that if I can hide my hackles I could learn to hide my smile?

 

 

howdy nontheistpilgrim

 

Of course getting-over-it  depends upon your insight in to your feelings. But if you exaggerate the differences between you now and the you of the past, whereby you and your family members believed in Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny (Christianity) when you were younger, and now as an older adult you have the knowledge and wisdom to laugh at such beliefs and the ability to forgive the stupidities of others in the past that left you with hackles and hard feelings toward Christianity.

 

Today we laugh at Greek mythology,  but 2300 years ago nearly everyone in the Mediterranean world believed in the Greek gods. And, yes, you can learn to hide/ control your laughs and smiles concerning the stupidity of religion  and the  poor choices of others, as I also try to do.

 

cheers :)

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I can identify with almost everything said above.  It has been a roller coaster for me also.  But things are leveling out and now I mostly pity the fundamentalist believers who are afraid of Hell, and that includes most of my family.  Nontheistpilgrim, I think over time you will find the feelings "leveling out" for you also.  

 

I still have to bite my tongue at times to keep from countering some of the old arguments they give.  I recently ran across an old friend who is still a believer, but was frustrated with the way his church treats women as inferior creatures.  I thought it might be an opening to suggest he should consider some of the Bible to not be directly from God, which possibly could lead to other questioning as it did for me.  But that was a mistake!  He went into defensive mode.  It is sad to see him as a 70 year old man who in my eyes has been an example of a very decent man, still worrying about pleasing God and Jesus. And my father died worrying that he might go to Hell because he had committed a sin that he had not confessed and asked forgiveness for.  But that is what fundamentalism does for you.

 

Non-belief is a lonely and at times a frustrating road, but I could never go back.  It is hard to explain, but in some ways have a peace of mind I never had before.  And it sounds like you feel the same way. 

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On 8/7/2022 at 2:00 PM, nontheistpilgrim said:

It was Valerie Tarico in The Dark Side who wrote 'In childhood and adolescence, each of us spends years building a world view, a mental house that we can live in comfortably for the rest of our lives..... it's rather unusual for an adult to go back and re-excavate the foundation'.

 

My upbringing, followed by training and years in ministry, was fundamentalist. There was a saying in my church "if you fill the pulpit with degrees you will empty the church by degrees". I left school at 15 with two GCE’s.

 

As I got older I was forced to interact with christians who had very different beliefs from my own but my core group remained quite conservative.

 

Then I got degrees.

 

Then I retired and asked lots of questions.

 

Thankfully I was someone who re-excavated foundations.

 

That was fifteen years ago when I was in my mid-sixties.

 

But the mental house is still in view. I am glad I no longer live in it but I can't erase it from my memory. To some extent I have become an angry young man; every mention of the 'g' word makes my hackles rise. I feel as if I should grow up, build a new mental house.

 

Is it really this difficult?

 

 

 

 

Yes it is hard to let go for some people nontheistpilgrim. It is for me also. It's easier for some to let go. Not me. It takes lots of work. I had to feel all the anger before I could find a way to heal.

 

The whole religious experience will always be a part of who I am. Being a religious fundamentalist during my life has made me into the person I am today. And yes, I also suffer from anger at the wasted years but what am I going to do about that now? I'm wasting my precious time (my days are slowly numbered also at 67) on anger that will get me nowhere but keep me in misery. I have to accept everything. Humans really are a dumb species (I included myself in that statement) and I still love most of them because we are all looking for 'something' to make us feel 'safe'. We are never going to convince people that there isn't any personal god watching over us. That won't happen for 200 more years (if the earth survives that long) so why bother with the big fight? I'm going to relax and let the young ones convince the next generation. They'll see in time.  I made life into my own little soap opera and I get to be the star. I run the show inside my mind now. I sit back now and just observe. Mostly I feel sorry for people. This world is a real nutty place. But it's entertainment to watch the humans try to evolve. We've come a long way but humans are still making the same mistakes over and over again.. 

 

Blow kisses to everyone and wish them well. Sit back and watch the show in your last years with your feet up and a smile on your face. We are just at the beginning stages of evolution for humans. The silly show will go on for a long time. People will continue to love religion (it makes them feel safe). They'll continue to love war. The people from all over the planet will fight for what they think is theirs and they they do not care who gets hurt. We get to get out of here soon. I don't want to go out angry.  I've had to forgive myself  for every stupid mistake I  made in my life (and I've made hundred's of bad decisions thinking they were good ones at the time.) All these people think they are making good choices also. I just let them be now. Go eat some ice cream and let it all go. Acceptance is the key to most of our mind troubles. 

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I agree that being religious shapes who you are, even afterwards.  You just have to work with it.    I have replaced some of my former religious habits with similar secular ones.  For example instead of doing Bible reading and study, I read self help books and make notes as I go along in a journal.  Many of these books suggest that you make a gratitude list for the things are are good in your life, which is not dissimilar to prayer.  
Outside walks in nature give me a spiritual sense of awe at the beauty of the world.

In terms of regular commitments that might have kept you busy in your previous church life, you can instead go to a gym, attend park runs (you are allowed to walk too), do volunteer work or go and see a lonely friend.  

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Weezer: Non-belief is a lonely and at times a frustrating road, but I could never go back.  It is hard to explain, but in some ways have a peace of mind I never had before.  And it sounds like you feel the same way. 

 

Indeed.

 

Thank you all.

 

For some odd reason the following came into my mind as I signed off here - and I've realised that I do often laugh at the stupidity of stuff. And I used to sing that! With others I can say the road is easier these days without Jesus looking over my shoulder.

 

No, no, it's not an easy road

No, no, it's not an easy road;

but Jesus walks beside me

And brightens the journey,

And lightens every load.

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It is strange how our early experiences worked on us.  I was never afraid of Jesus, but feared old man God.  

 

Ha! I have a confession to make.  Yesterday evening I was encouraging you by saying the anger would subside with time, and it had done so with me.  I thought. Today 2 young Mormans knocked on our door and I decided to do a little gentle probing with them.  Very quickly I started to feel very agitated.  Not angry at them, but just agitated.  I was almost shaking and wanted to tell them to run away from their God as fast as they could.  At 81 years of age I had become that scared little 11 year old boy again.

 

It is such a helpless feeling to think of the HUGE superstition that has so much of the world in it's fearful grip.  Like Margee said, human moral evolution is taking it's time.  How in the heck could we speed it up??

 

Thanks for starting this thread.

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Weezer: I suppose you didn't confess that to your parish priest?

I rather perversely enjoy having JW's at the door, although they seldom are seen around here these days, perhaps because most of my neighbours are Muslim. I quote at them from their own Bible: 2 Thess. 2 16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, 17 Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.

And throw Greek at them (which I don't read actually). They have never given me an answer to these verses which I tell them prove that Jehovah and Jesus are one and the same.

Mormons I have never 'welcomed' to my door.

These people don't actually annoy me, they are fun!

 

When Virgin Media call I simply say 'Sorry there aren't any virgins in this house' and shut the door.

 

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21 hours ago, Weezer said:

  I was never afraid of Jesus, but feared old man God.  

 

 

Me neither Weezer! We we're brought up in the United Church and all we ever knew was, ''Jesus loves me this I know, for the bible tells me so, little ones to him belong, they are week but he is strong''.

 

Then I got involved with the Pentecostal's! 


I recognize now that as I look over my life, I was looking for the father I did not have in my growing up years. I was prime for belonging to a big family. Jesus became real to me in my mind. I was so happy at first. I really was. Then I started hearing the real word of god which was quite scary. And I got brainwashed....... 🙄 

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On 8/7/2022 at 12:00 PM, nontheistpilgrim said:

 

 I feel as if I should grow up, build a new mental house.

 

Is it really this difficult?

 

Thinking about this more, I'm not quite sure what you mean.  When you say build a new house, do you mean find a new purpose, or meaning in life?  Or is it something else?

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3 hours ago, Margee said:

 

Me neither Weezer! We we're brought up in the United Church and all we ever knew was, ''Jesus loves me this I know, for the bible tells me so, little ones to him belong, they are week but he is strong. 

 

It is strange how that song can stay with you through the years.  Like you, I heard it from an early age and it still crosses my mind occasionally.  And I still don't blame Jesus for what the church became.  If he actually existed, he was "programmed" as a child into believing he was a special savior, and actually did a good job of trying to turn legalism into a more humane view of religion, and elevated women in the process. Then the Catholic church took it back to male dominated legalistic rituals.

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10 hours ago, Margee said:

I recognize now that as I look over my life, I was looking for the father I did not have in my growing up years.

This is one of the insidious subtleties of the christian religion.  Whatever "need" you have, there's a "god" in the bible to meet it.  Need comfort? El Shaddai.  Need provisions?  Jehovah Jireh.  Need forgiveness?  jesus.  The problem is most people are tricked into believing it's all the same, one and only god, rather than realizing that all those "names" of god were really just the ancient Canaanite pantheon.  And this trickery takes advantage of those with legitimate needs.

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And then there is the boyfriend Jesus - which is taken further in Roman Catholic Orders I think. Not to forget Mary. 'Hold your tongue, boy' I have to tell myself.

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11 hours ago, Weezer said:

Thinking about this more, I'm not quite sure what you mean.  When you say build a new house, do you mean find a new purpose, or meaning in life?  Or is it something else?

I think it is about not wanting to be in that old house but having a need to live somewhere. I'm certainly not unhappy about moving house - far from it. Maybe it's about the 'hangers-on' although my family would be upset if I described them as such.

It is certainly about having no replacement for the friends I once had or the 'place' I once was a part of.

It's also about age: at 83 (plus three days) and 60 years of marriage (plus one day) I would be reasonably happy to plod along without having to formulate a new ideology. I feel a need to move forward (after all, I describe myself as being on a pilgrimage). Yet my health and my partner's dementia make their own demands, take their own time. (I'm not whining just being realistic.)

'Realistic' maye be a key word - I should lighten up, perhaps.

Thanks for your observations.

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14 hours ago, nontheistpilgrim said:

 

It is certainly about having no replacement for the friends I once had or the 'place' I once was a part of.

It's also about age:

 

I can really identify with both of those.  I only have one long term friend that remained a true friend.  Some almost shun me now, and several, including some family members, just seem to tolerate me now.  Family reunions used to be fun, but now are almost a chore.

 

And I have a similar situation with my wife who is in denial about getting older and more irrational.  And my forgetfulness is increasing.

 

My ideology hasn't changed much.  My focus as a clinical social worker was always more of a "social gospel" trying to improve the wellbeing of human beings, instead of getting them into heaven.  But the way things are going in the world, especially in the USA at this time, that almost seems like I wasted my time, but I am happy with how our kids turned out.

 

But I don't feel like anywhere is "home" any more.  And as I think about it, that and being uncomfortable around people has increased as I get older. Is that similar to what you feel?

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Weezer: yes, very similar to how I feel.

My immediate family are very supportive, ironically the one able to be most actively supportive is a non-believer (others live at a distance or have health issues). We have very happy family times. I think there is 'no need' for us to talk religion because we all know where we stand and respect each other and none of them is evangelical ( I have yet to have a conversation with our minister son who recently was appointed to a senior position in his denomination after they advertised for an evangelical!).

My old 'friends' have more or less disappeared, some after they realised that their efforts to bring me back into their fold were always doomed to failure. They never did want to talk about my apostacy, just to pray for me and send me bible verses and pleas to reconsider. This is all the more frustrating for me as I enjoy researching new ideas and taking risks, quite the opposite to these friends: my Christian life and ministry demonstrate this. Have I told the story of how, at the end of basic training in my national service, the squad was told that the postings would not be announced until someone had volunteered to go to Aden? I remember feeling that as a christian that should be me. Ironically I only stayed in Aden for a couple of weeks before being moved to Bahrain, and then to Kenya and then to Malta; so I did alright! (God moved in a mysterious way, I believed.) As a minister I offered to serve 8000 miles away from home where life was a lot less sophisticated than UK.

Speaking of UK - I think we are almost as bad as USA, with a government gone AWOL and we all living with bad decisions made my a narcissistic leader who was forced by his colleagues to resign.

Whilst being stronger in my atheism, I still like to know what's going on in my old church (not evangelical) where my partner still is a member: let's just say it is very interesting and, for the first time in a few years, I will attend a service to welcome a new minister, taking my partner in her wheelchair.

I don't feel that I have a home; it's not a really massive issue at the moment. I do feel that I have started some foundations but I have no idea where the brickwork is going to come from / where my future networks might be (outside of family). And I'd like to know.

All the best.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry I didn't respond sooner.  I went on vacation (holiday as you call it) in the Rocky Mountains and did some Enduro riding.  HA!  Found that my age is really catching up with me.  It's getting to be more work than fun.

 

It looks like we both are just plodding along in life.  My wife and I had a long talk after I got back and ironed out some wrinkles in our relationship.  best wishes with your "building".

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