Something happened to me in Mexico recently. Don’t worry, this is good news.
In early December we took a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We hadn’t taken a real vacation for about two years. It was so-oo-oo-oo nice! It refreshed all of us!
And at some point, something happened!
I changed. I became happy again.
- Singing “Fa-La-La-La-Laaaaaaaaa!”
The last four years have been a time of major transition in many ways. One of the transitions has been the re-evaluation of my faith and religion and the loss of much of that faith and religion. So it has been a time of deep reflection accompanied by a gamut of emotions. But somehow, in December, I think that I moved on. I accepted myself for who I am at this time in my life.
Does the God of the Bible act like an abusive lover or spouse?
Below is a great article that compares attributes of God as portrayed in the Bible with an abusive spouse or lover. Some of the comparisons of God’s words and actions are chillingly reminiscent of an abuser. What do you think? Based on the Old Testament prophets’ depictions of God, is God someone you would want your daughter to date or marry?
The God of Abuse- ExChristian.Net – Articles.
These days I find it hard to “believe” in things that are patently absurd.
I could probably believe in a limited amount of absurdity if there was good reason or some evidence to do so. I might be able to believe that a virgin conceived a child if there was reliable evidence recorded at the time of the event by credible witnesses. I can also think of many strange, hypothetical circumstances that would lend evidence to such a “miracle.”
There are some things that I can believe.
I can believe a man named Jesus was born in the first century who had a close and special relationship with God (assuming arguendo there is a god). I can believe this man traveled, evangelized, started a movement and was sentenced to death. I don’t have any problem with that per se. I can believe there have been many peaceable, wise, spiritual people to walk this earth. Assuming the existence of a supreme God, I could believe such a God started the process of creation.
However, to believe that God made a mud pie in the shape of a human and then blew magic breath into it and the figure came to life?
This pushes my rational mind too far. I cannot permanently suspend my disbelief on this one. I just can’t do it, as I can’t believe that somewhere an Italian boy named Pinocchio began his life as a wooden puppet or that near Hansel and Gretel’s home there really was a cottage made of gingerbread and candy.
Even if I could believe the following: that a virgin gave birth to Jesus, whose father was the Holy Spirit, and Jesus was half-God, caused miracles, explained the wisdom of God to us, was crucified, rose again and then ascended into heaven in front of his disciples; there is no contemporaneous evidence that any of these things actually happened.
In the last month there have been at least 10 suicides of young people who were gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans or somehow *queer-identified. These are the suicides that we know about and that involved kids with a queer identity. I am sure there have been many more whether they occurred last month or some other month. Many queer folks have struggled with their sexuality and have faced depression or attempted suicide but thankfully have lived to tell the tale. GLBT youth face a whole host of woes, difficulties and dangers due to their orientation and identity and our society, schools, churches and christians are failing them.
*I am using the word “queer” to include a diverse group of folks that include gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, and trans people and those with other sexual or gender orientations and identities that differ from a binary male and female heterosexual norm. This is my first attempt writing about these issues so I apologize in advance for offending anyone by how I label or discuss things. Feel free to let me know if you take issue with anything I am saying here.
In case you weren’t familiar with the plethora of recent, tragic suicides, here is a nice background post from blogger Progressive Scholar about them. http://progressivescholar.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/lgbt-suicides/
The way the church deals with gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and other queer folk has greatly affected and hastened my exit from church life. We have a HUGE problem in this country and in our churches that we fail to love and accept people who do not fit into the heterosexual norm.
When my first child was born, I felt such a love and acceptance for my child that I knew I would love my child no matter what her orientation, genetic make-up, inclinations, choices or actions would turn out to be. My child will always be my child and my love for each of my children is ABSOLUTELY UNCONDITIONAL.
FAITH YEARS AND THE BEGINNING OF DOUBT
PART ONE: COLLEGE FAITH YEARS
A little more on my journey and what caused me to begin to doubt……..
I haven’t talked much about my journey yet but I can tell you where I am today. Today I am happier and less angry than I was a few years ago when felt I had reached my breaking point with Christianity and religion.
I became a born-again Christian when I was 18 during the spring of my first year of college. After being born-again I was water baptised by immersion and baptised in the Holy Spirit, complete with the gift of tongues.
For the next four years while earning my bachelor’s degree, I worked and served as a student evangelist in every free moment. I attended multiple weekly bible studies, led many evangelistic student groups, attended church at least twice a week (Wednesday and Saturday night!), and devoted an average of (at least) 1 to 3 days a week to evangelistic outreach. I helped run and man an outreach table in my college student union providing bible tracts and engaging students in conversation about God and Jesus to evangelize. For about five years I studied the bible for *at least* an hour a day, on average. I don’t want to belabor the details here. It makes me tired just thinking about it.
I haven’t had much time to write. Ok. I will be honest. I NEVER have ANY time to write!
Since I am a SAHM of two young children it is next to impossible to write on the computer. If I sit down at the computer, two adorable monkey-like creatures begin climbing me as if I am a jungle gym. The preschooler tries to sneak the mouse away to click to the Disney Princess website while the 9 month old wants to bang on the keyboard, pull everything off of the desk and conduct pummeling experiments with the objects. Both kids compete for space on my lap, the office chair and desk surface. It is not very comfortable for the three of us to sit in one office chair while the preschooler tries to turn us in circles, the infant tries to eat the mouse, cords and printer and climb onto the desk while the mom tries to check twitter and hopes that one of the kids doesn’t fall to the ground as a crying, injured mess!
It is summer too! Or rather, it WAS summer. So I tried to do the most important things in life, which is to take care of and spend time with my kids, rather than blog the often half-baked religious musings, complaints and rantings of my inner mind. And we had a great summer! The preschooler attended dance camp, soccer camp and swimming lessons. We went to the local water park twice, once with family friends and once with just our family. At 9 months, our infant learned how to do the army crawl, though some said it looked like he was doing the butterfly crawl! He also pulled himself to standing and tried to climb every structure in sight! He learned how to climb onto the couch, then to the top of the couch, then to the stair railing!
During the summer I have tried to read a few books! I am still reading five books at a time with a book list of others in my head! I’ve received many good recommendations for other books as well. (I plan to start a book list page! See sidebar!)
I am reading “The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails” edited by John Loftus. It is wonderful. I think every Christian should read it!!!! I am also reading “Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists” by Dan Barker. I recommend it though it is not as scholarly as “The Christian Delusion” but it does explain Barker’s personal loss of faith and points out many flaws in Evangelical Christianity.
As I journey from certainty to openness in my faith walk, I often wonder how to help others who are locked into a rigid belief system that does not encourage them to question their assumptions. I am still working on a letter to others, in my head of course, to help myself and others to begin to question their own belief systems. However, in the meantime, below is a letter, “Dear Born-again Christian” by Marlene Winell, a psychologist and writer who counsels people who are leaving harmful religious systems. I think the letter is nicely done.
Winell’s letter points out how a rigid born-again belief system can seem to solve problems for people, such as give us comfort in our fear of death and loneliness and also give us absolutes for answering the big questions in life. She correctly suggests that the born-again belief system could create other problems system, such as cutting ourselves off from our fellow humans on the planet and sharing in the human journey and by causing us to miss the reality of our life here and now (the only life we can be sure of, I might add) by living one’s life for a future, hoped-for afterlife that may not materialize.
I think that anyone, such as a born-again christian or anyone else, who begins their journey for truth by accepting a system that proposes to provide all the answers for them, is unlikely to find the truth. However, once having accepted a system promising the “truth” to all questions, it can be hard and frightening to begin to question that belief system. I think Winell’s letter is a good attempt to help a person locked in a belief system to begin to consider opening their mind to questions and answers outside of that belief system.
Here is Marlene Winell’s letter. What do you think?