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!

Emotion and Politics

I have a theory that I’ve entertained for quite some time. I even considered writing a book about it at one point, but decided against it when all I could find on the topic were psychological treatises (a bit over my grade level). Works/writings by the average layperson were next to non-existent, although Michael Shermer did offer some input in The Believing Brain — but it simply wasn’t enough.

So what is this earth-shattering theory?

It’s my contention that those who follow the conservative/Republican point of view tend to be very deeply emotional individuals.

As many have expressed here and elsewhere, whenever the subject of Trump and/or his policies has arisen in a conversation, the discussion often devolves into little more than insults and verbal abuse from the Trump supporter.

(Regrettably, on occasion, these exchanges have resulted in lost or strained friendships and/or damaged family relationships.)

However, as many will attest, such incidents are not limited just to the topic of Trump. Discussions that include Democratic vs. Republican points of view frequently devolve into angry words and name-calling as well. Even in my own household, I find I must avoid any type of political discussion since we are on opposite sides of the fence and it can get “emotional” (on his side) quite rapidly.

Online social media has become a breeding ground for such reactions. And things get especially intense among those who are prone to conspiracy theories.

As I said at the beginning, this is strictly a personal theory based on my own experiences and observations. I cannot authenticate it with reams of psychological papers and writings.

IMPRORTANT NOTE: I am NOT saying that those who lean to the left are guiltless. We all have our breaking point. It just seems (to me) that such emotional reactions prevail among those who support a more conservative point of view. (Some may also see a connection to religious beliefs.)

Your thoughts?

******************************
Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Limbaugh: Gone But Not Forgotten

In one of her recent newsletters (February 17, 2021), Heather Cox Richardson included some information about Rush Limbaugh who, as many of you know, recently died of lung cancer.

Limbaugh was well-known as a radio personality, but he was especially welcomed in conservative circles for his approach to government and how it should be run. And it seemed the more “extreme” his ideas, the more famous he became.

In fact, one of Limbaugh’s claim was that “hardworking white men” are under attack in America because  “minorities and feminists” are too lazy to work and instead expect a handout from the government that’s paid for by tax dollars levied from “hardworking white men. “

Hardworking. White. Men.

To Limbaugh, this was “socialism”– and it was destroying America!

Moreover, it was his contention that Republicans needed to begin an emergency dismantling of the welfare system — which was “shredding the social fabric and  bankrupting the country‘’ and “gutting the work ethic, educational performance, and moral discipline of the poor.”

His solution? Congress should cut capital gains taxes, which would drive economic growth, create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and generate billions in federal revenue.

(Forgive my ignorance, but how exactly is this supposed to work?)

As I was reading this, I thought to myself … it’s no wonder Republicans (were) are enamored with Limbaugh’s approach. So much so, that his suggestions are in play at this very moment. In fact, were it not for the recent election that put a more forward-thinking and equality-minded individual into office, we would probably be in the deep throes of Limbaugh’s government solutions even now.

Although Limbaugh’s voice has been silenced, unfortunately his ideas still echo on the Republican side of the U.S. Congressional Chambers and efforts to “make it so” will undoubtedly continue for many years to come.

A Quora Response Re: Covid-19

This post is primarily for those who are convinced that COVID-19 is no worse than the flu … and only affects “old people.”

Is the coronavirus more dangerous than the flu? 

(The following response was submitted by Caroline Sim on January 25, 2021.)

I am currently recovering from Covid-19. My partner and I caught it at the same time, despite both of us working from home, rarely going out, and always wearing masks when we did. His symptoms were very mild and cleared up quickly, while mine, according to the physician who was treating me, were “classic.” Except that instead of lasting 2 weeks, my symptoms lasted 2 months (and counting).

Most people are aware of the relatively high death rates from Covid-19. And many have heard about the “long Covid” sufferers, who continue to be sick or have permanent tissue damage, as well as those who’ve experienced “cytokine storms” and other auto-immune responses. But very few understand how truly harrowing “normal” Covid can be. I had only the tiniest inkling myself, and was not at all prepared for what came my way. I’d assumed anyone talking about horrific symptoms were “acute” cases. But no.

Covid-19 has been orders of magnitude worse than any illness I’ve ever experienced, and that includes treatment for cancer. On my worst day, I could not lift my head or speak above a whisper. My partner was on the phone with my doctor that day, while I gave a thumbs up or down in response to his questions. We all wondered if maybe I should be in hospital, but in fact my fever was moderating and my wheezing was under control. I was actually better when it came to my breathing issues. But the breathing was not the worst part of it.

For me, and for many, the most challenging part of “classic” Covid is the deep, debilitating fatigue that accompanies it. And unless you’ve experienced it, it’s just not possible to comprehend it. Especially if you’re someone who naturally has high energy. Sometimes it was more than I could do to open my eyes, which became extraordinarily light sensitive, so I would just lie there in the dark, wondering when it would finally get better.

It took 2 months, but I’ve improved significantly. The deep fatigue is gone, and my fever finally broke after week 6. I’m still using a puffer, to help with breathing, and I still have to moderate how much I do, not just physical labour but “cognitive labour” too. I still can’t walk outside, when it’s cold, without wheezing and coughing uncontrollably, and I’m still taking painkillers. But all that is so much better than how I’ve been feeling that I hardly notice it. It’s such a relief to feel human again.

Is Covid-19 worse than seasonal flu? Yes, significantly worse. The mortality rates are frightening in and of themselves, but the severity and persistence of the fatigue, and the unpredictability of symptoms you might get (Covid toe, shaky hands, loss of smell, but also loss of hearing and sight, all kinds of bizarre psychological and neurological problems), and how long you might be sick, all add a harrowing layer of surreal unpredictability.

Think of it this way. Much like in gambling, you just don’t know what cards you’ll be dealt. Many of the cards are pretty much “get out of jail free”, basically a few sniffles and you’re done. But other cards, out of nowhere, are harsh beyond comprehension for something that we call a “cold”.

Anyway, in a nutshell: Covid is freaking scary, and the worst part, aside from the possibility of dying, is not knowing if you’ll experience a very mild version of it, or if you’ll be one of the people who might end up with chronic fatigue and permanent damage, to lungs or other organs. That’s not a bet anyone should be indifferent to. Covid is no joke.

Mirror Reflections

Have you ever noticed during movies that individuals often study themselves in the mirror when they’re in a stressful situation?

Do YOU ever do the same?

  • Perhaps you have a life-altering decision to make, so you “study yourself” in the mirror.
  • Or perhaps you have said or done something hurtful to a loved one, so you “share regret with yourself” in the mirror.
  • Or possibly you are suffering from a severe illness, so you “ask yourself” how you will face the potential consequences.

In other words, in these moments of self-observation, you are not pondering your “looks,” but rather you are examining YOU.

Have you ever wondered why we do this? Do we “see something” in our reflection that simple thoughts cannot reveal?

Inquiring minds want to know.