As many of you know, I’ve struggled to free myself from religious institutions and tried to chronicle that struggle in my blog. Some people don’t understand why I would want to do that. Others wonder why I can’t seem to do that as easily as they have. It’s very, very hard for those who have never felt trapped by religion and religious programming to understand how insidious the trap actually is. The mind games, the social games, the self-esteem issues…they are all “ties that bind” to quote the hymn. I’ve come to a unique point in this blog because last month I was ready to chuck the whole thing and say “fuck it,” people are too dense to understand the subtleties of journeys and processes. But as I read other people’s blogs and reached out to the agnostic, atheist, humanist, and non-christian spiritual community, and as they responded with understanding and patience and love to my dilemma, I’m beginning to gradually emerge from my self imposed cocoon. I can see that even though I’m putting myself out there for every christian wacko’s comments about my life (of which they know nothing about), my motives, and my thoughts, there is a small but growing portion of people who quietly blog love and reason.
Who has helped me understand? Many people. Suresh at Meditation Photography helps me see with new eyes. His “vision,” the one that he captures with his camera and processes through his spiritualized view of the world, provides me with a beautiful serene alternative to the harshness of the sin/salvation mindset. Tobeme at The Naked Soul is another spirit that provides the healing balm of pragmatic spirituality (no not an oxymoron). His post, “Why is it so hard to let go of the past?” is not so much a kick in the butt, but a gentle nudge in the shoulder from one friend to another saying, “Hey, there’s an alternative to all that vacillation of the will!” The good, rowdy folks over at Ionian Spirit provide some chuckles and a quick rap on the head if I get too maudlin about church. Also in my “amen” corner are my new-found friends over at Agnostic Atheism, who rescued me, along with Suresh, from blog burnout at just the right moment. Being former Christians themselves, the folks at aA are just the support group one needs to detox from religion, and they understand what being chained to a dead book and a dead religion means.
Many others have inspired me without their even knowing it. Zoe, Diana, and Lindsay. The many feminists online that provide a safe space for women to speak their mind are too numerous to list here but deserve to be read: Feministing, Hugo Schwyzer, Feminism Online, etc. Even as I speak, many Neanderthals still threaten women with bodily harm merely for speaking their mind in a blog. I don’t understand the mindset of these guys even though I should, I grew up with such an asshole. The anger and hate they must feel toward women to even say what they say about and to us is frightening at first and then just downright sad and anger inducing. How dare they pronounce judgment on my life as a woman! And they wonder why we are angry!!! Christian men are no better. My burnout from blogging, and many other women’s burnout, is a direct result of some of this self-righteous harassment. Yet, we press on realizing that if we can influence but one person to think for themselves or to be self-aware enough to realize how they are being manipulated by the religious mindset, well…who knows what could happen?
I do realize that some will always blame the messengers. If one thing is consistent in the blogosphere it’s the presence of people who are certain that they know everything and are 100% right all the time and are convinced that everyone else is wrong. They think, “it’s OTHER people who just don’t understand,” or “it’s others that are closed minded, not ME!” It never even occurs to them that they may be just as closed minded as they accuse others of being. When people with calm reasoning faculties question the very concepts of religion, prayer, god, scriptures, (insert favorite here), you can be sure that we will be told these things over and over and over and over in a loud hysterical voice, as if this were something new:
- you didn’t read the bible with discernment
- you didn’t read the bible with the holy spirit
- you didn’t have enough humility when you prayed, read, etc.
- you people have closed minds (pot, meet kettle!)
- if you don’t get anything out of prayer, bible reading, etc. it’s your fault
- god’s ways are too mysterious for us to figure out
- all good is from god, all bad is from you
- you moved, god didn’t
- you weren’t really “saved” to begin with
I mean really, do they honestly think we haven’t heard all this before? We’ve heard it from churches, from fellow christians, from bible teachers, from pastors, you name it. I suppose it must be so comforting to have all the answers (it is, I used to think I did), but I can’t let such opinions ruin for me what has become a creative outlet for expression for my interests and my talents. Caving to this kind of thing is like letting terrorists win. It ain’t gonna happen.
So, I’m renewed, invigorated, and ready to tackle once again that mystery of iniquity I started to tackle: that spirit that works insidiously in the hearts and minds of people, the one that tells them they must curtail another’s right to speak, to feel, to dream as we wish. That “mystery,” that spirit that “doth already work” is the iron chain of religion, patriarchal and nanny style politics, and misogyny that shackles this world and prevents people from seeing the light of reason. I aim to shed light on such darkness. I don’t know everything and in fact I don’t know anything at all anymore, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion and a right to express it. I’ve learned that once you can admit to yourself and to others that you don’t know anything, you can then truly begin on the path to enlightenment and humility and you suddenly “see” everything.