Leaving Christianity – Oh What A Relief It Is!

Oh What A Relief It Is!Although I left Christianity over 20 years ago, it took a long while for me to erase the doctrines that had been embedded within my consciousness for 15+ years. It was not an easy road.

As Stephen Van Eck wrote on the Deism.com website: “Once sucked into the parallel universe of Christianity, [a person] is too intimidated by threats and rationalizations to attempt escape. Even thinking along alternative lines will induce severe feelings of guilt.”

Writing my book helped tremendously because of all the research and reading I did. Learning how and why certain doctrines of the Christian faith (e.g., final judgment, burning fires of hell, Satan and his demons, the end-times) were introduced into the faith was extremely liberating … and removed a ton of guilt and fear.

I also found out some things about the Bible. As many others, I had been taught the Bible was “God’s Word” (even though the interpretation of what “He” said varies considerably among denominations). Through my studies, I discovered that much of what is in the bible is the result of stories, epics, myths, legends, proverbs, etc. that were passed by word of mouth from one generation to another. This is particularly true of the Hebrew Bible, but intrinsically typical of the New Testament scriptures as well. Can you imagine the burden that was lifted when I found out I wasn’t genetically inclined to sin and thus in need of someone to save me from being human??!?

Contrary to what one might think, the many discoveries I made did not turn me into an atheist. However, I definitely do not believe in a supernatural being who lives somewhere “up there,” who can be manipulated by prayer, or who has a “will.” Rather, my image of “God” is far more encompassing and has nothing to do with religious belief. In fact, I’m extremely reluctant to even use the word “god” because of all its connotations.

In any case, I find my life so much more fulfilling now. Truly, what a relief it has been!

Kill ‘Em All!

Just read this in an article at AmericanThinker.com … and it chills my bones:

America is in a generational struggle against the sick, pathological and extreme ideology of Islam, and America must show no mercy for the merciless Islamic State, which seeks the “breaking of the American [Christian] cross” and the fulfillment of Islamic prophecy. We must unleash the full fury and might of the U.S. military on the Islamic State and annihilate these animals who would end our U.S. Republic, democratic elections and religious freedom, leaving only Sharia law. And, we must fight to victory or condemn future generations to a perpetual state of war, or worse.

I don’t think any of us want to be in a “perpetual state of war,” but is unleashing the “full fury and might of the U.S. military on the Islamic State” the answer? Does this writer think we can just walk in and blow the smithereens out of the countries that support terrorism and walk away unscathed?

I recognize that diplomatic reasoning doesn’t seem to be working, but it turns my stomach when the writer says we should “annihilate these animals.” If the U.S. were to follow his strategy, not only the “animals” would be annihilated, but thousands of innocent people as well.

I admit I don’t know the answer to the global situation that is facing the U.S. (and other countries), but there must be a better way than the venomous and vicious plan offered by this writer.

Thoughts?

Why Doesn’t God Answer Prayer?

praying-hands

Many years ago, while living in California, I had a close friend (let’s call her Carrie) with whom I partied on a regular basis. One distinct thing I remember about Carrie was that she always seemed to be on a super-high whenever we went out. Flighty. Talkative. At the time, I just accepted it as part of her personality. It wasn’t until after I had moved away and we had drifted apart that I put two and two together. She was snorting cocaine! I know, I know. How could I miss it? Well, let’s just say I was young and innocent. Besides, the point I’m making is that this girl was definitely wild and crazy!

Awhile back, I got a Friend request from Carrie on Facebook. Come to find out, she’s “gotten religion” over the years. She doesn’t post very often, but when she does, it’s nearly always requests for prayer. Mostly related to her health … and her friends respond.

This week, she wrote a rather sad posting. Apparently, she has been told she has lung cancer and possibly bone cancer. But, as she put it, she’s fooled “that old Devil” because “all of this has only made me stronger, much stronger.” She then asked, once again, for prayers – and once again, her friends have responded.

Now I ask you, if God is real, if God is a healer, if God loves, if God answers prayer … then why is Carrie now diagnosed with CANCER! Why haven’t the “fervent prayers” for her health availed much (James 5:16)? Why has it come to this? The bible says:

“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” (I John 5:14)

When I was a Christian, I was given innumerable reasons why God didn’t always answer prayer. Often, the above scripture was quoted, saying it must not be “God’s will.” Of course, I swallowed these reasons whole because this is what I wanted to believe. I mean, after all, we’re talking about GOD here. But down deep inside, it just didn’t make sense. If God said he was going to answer our prayers (Matthew 7:7; 21:22, Luke 11:10), then why didn’t “He”?

Why doesn’t God answer prayer? Could it possibly be that “God” doesn’t really exist? Or is “He” just being fickle?

Better Watch Out, Better Not Cry

From an online Huffington Post article:

But CUFI (Christians United for Israel) has an ulterior agenda: its support for Israel derives from the belief of (San Antonio-based megachurch pastor John) Hagee and his flock that Jesus will return to Jerusalem after the battle of Armageddon and cleanse the earth of evil. In the end, all the non-believers – Jews, Muslims, Hindus, mainline Christians, etc. – must convert or suffer the torture of eternal damnation. Over a dozen CUFI members eagerly revealed to me their excitement at the prospect of Armageddon occurring tomorrow. Among the rapture ready was Republican Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. None of this seemed to matter to (Sen. Joseph) Lieberman, who delivered a long sermon hailing Hagee as nothing less than a modern-day Moses. Lieberman went on to describe Hagee’s flock as “even greater than the multitude Moses commanded.”

OMG! Fanatics all.

Notice that even “mainline Christians” are doomed? Gotta’ be a fundamentalist or you’re a goner.

P.S. Be sure to watch the video at the above link.

Sharing My Feelings

After reading a post on Out From Under the Umbrella about how believers and non-believers sometimes react to those who disagree with them, it got me to thinking.

During the course of my de-conversion, I remember having very negative feelings towards those who were still bound to Christianity. Whenever believers tried to “convince” me I was on the wrong pathway, I felt anger … indignation … frustration. I wanted to tell them how blind they were. How indoctrinated. How easily swayed by rhetoric and tradition.

Instead, I would say nothing. Oh sure, on occasion I might mumble something like “I think you’re wrong,” but mostly I remained silent. I knew from years of having “been there, done that” that nothing I could or would say would change their thinking. Besides, by nature I’m not confrontational, so silence (and a smile) was my “weapon of choice.”

As I’ve looked back, I think this was the primary motivation behind writing my book. Communicating my thoughts and feelings through the written word has always been easier for me than one-on-one conversation. Through my book, I was allowed to share what I had learned about the Christian faith (which was at odds with what I had been taught) without direct confrontation.

Interestingly, since the book has been published,  I’ve noticed my feelings towards those who still “believe” have softened.  I’m now able to earnestly say … “If it works for you, that’s well and good. Each person has to follow what feels right for them.” This is not to say that when the opportunity presents itself (in person or on the internet), I won’t share what I have learned through my research. But I no longer feel disdain for those who are still trapped by doctrine and tradition. It is now more a feeling of sympathy, but also understanding in that for most, this is all they know.

Of course, down deep inside, there is always the hope they will read my book and learn the “facts” behind many of the things they are taught in church and Sunday School. wink

What a Privilege

I just read a quote by Marcus Aurelius:

When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.

Marcus and I think a lot alike.

Rarely does a night pass that I don’t look up at the stars and think to myself how grateful I am to be a part of this magnificent universe, to have a roof over my head, to be healthy, to enjoy the love of family and friends (and my little mutt).

And in the morning … I follow Marcus’ advice.

I don’t know why I’m here on this planet. I’m just thankful that I am.

I know that one day I’ll leave this place. It’s not a pleasant thing to think about … and I may rage into that good night. But hopefully, I’ll be at peace and remember how wonderful, and what a privilege, it was to be alive, to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.

Christianity and Fear

The following is a portion of a blog posting (“What Led Me to Leave Christianity”) that I came across on Left Christianity.

The entire post is worth reading, but I felt this part was especially relevant:

[I] honestly think people choose religion out of fear and then once they’ve latched onto a worldview they only see the evidence that fits that storyline. What are people afraid of? Everything. Death mainly. There is fear that we are alone in the universe, fear of just living with our mistakes without any chance of truly redeeming them. Fear of hell. Fear that has been built into us as children. Fear that is likely wired into us from our early evolutionary beginnings as humans. It’s a scary world – whatever your particular fears might be. Religion holds out a branch and says hold on! We have some solid ground for you and we have almost all of the answers for you! But instead of grabbing onto that branch and all of the baggage that comes along with it – I would urge my readers to look at their fears directly. Realize that some of them are founded in reality (death, catastrophes, loss, loneliness, pain …) but that some aren’t (hell, sin, all of those worries about bad things you think will happen but don’t …). And the best way to face those hard-to-handle things in life is to take a breath, face the reality of what’s in front of you, know you can handle it, and build the life you want in the here and now. And don’t forget to grab onto all that wonderful and awesome stuff that is out in the world while you’re at it! Love, sex, friendship, births, achievements, music, art, nature, conversation, smiles, laughter … they are all out there to enjoy while we’re here!

Brenda writes in detail about her de-conversion here. I urge anyone who is struggling with doubts and/or fears about their Christian experience to read her story.

Jesus and the Big Picture

For those who read this blog on a somewhat regular basis, you know that I often refer to postings on the Finding Truth blog. Nate has developed quite a following and the discussions there often get pretty heated.

A participant in one of his recent postings is an individual who goes by the name of “Kathy.” This person, for all intents and purposes, is a Christian. She appears to believe God is real and the bible is his message to the world.

While many on the Finding Truth blog tend to believe there are contradictions and/or errors within the holy book, Kathy staunchly defends “The Word” by claiming she is the only one who is looking “objectively” at the scriptures in question. She further claims that all who disagree with her are doing so because of their “liberal” (atheist) perspective.

In one of her defenses against bible inconsistencies, she made this comment: “We can TRUST the ENTIRE Bible because it was approved by God. You are focusing on things that are INSIGNIFICANT.. because again, it reveals what is in your heart. If your questions related to contradictions in the actual MESSAGE of the Bible, then I could see your point.. but times and dates.. it just doesn’t matter in the big picture of what Jesus did for US on the cross. (Emphasis mine)

THE BIG PICTURE

At the heart of Christianity is the belief that salvation comes through believing in Jesus and his atoning death on the cross. Few are aware this doctrine was never mentioned, promoted, or taught by Jesus himself. Nor is it addressed anywhere in the Hebrew Bible. OT scriptures used by church leaders today to corroborate this teaching did not hold the same meaning to the ancient Jews. In fact, it wasn’t until (the apostle) Paul developed his theology about who Jesus was and why he came that things changed.

This change didn’t occur overnight. It was primarily through the plethora of Paul’s letters that (some of) the early Jews began to view the ancient texts in a new way. Using his skills as an eloquent writer, a powerful and charismatic orator, and an effective evangelist, Paul was eventually able to convince them that Yeshua was the long-awaited Messiah.

But he didn’t stop there. Since he had abolished the Torah as a requirement for salvation (Galatians 3:10), it was necessary for him to put a new requirement into place that would ensure Yahweh‘s approval. This he did by developing the doctrine of “original sin” (humanity’s state of sin resulting from the fall of man), and pointing out that only through faith in his “Christ” could anyone gain favor with God.

In other words, the conception that Christians have today about “what Jesus did for US on the cross” is based solely on the teachings of Paul — teachings that originated from his reported “vision” of a disembodied Jesus.


“Paul’s words are not the Words of God. They are the words of Paul — a vast difference.”

— John Shelby Spong