I Get It Now! I’m a “loose” Woman!

I think I understand why fundamentalist Protestant and Catholics stop by my blog and engage me in conversations about the church. These are usually nit-picky types of things like arguing whose facts are more important or bits and pieces of church history. They, like all believers, think that since I take issue with the church and its institutions, I must have some driving need for forgiveness for sins. This is a fairly common assumption (among many) made by those believers who try to figure out those of us who “rebel,” or “backslide” as they would call it.  We’ve had the audacity to leave church! Shock! Horror! Look at the endless grief they’ve given Anne Rice!  They just can’t understand why we would leave so they look and dig and hitting upon an incident we may write about ourselves on our blogs, they play amateur psychologist and console their own consciences by saying, “Ah, there’s the reason.” In their benighted sort of way, they think they are helping us, offering us a deity’s comfort. That’s sweet. But what they can never understand is that that comfort comes with a price; intellectual and spiritual integrity.

It actually makes them feel better that they’ve hit upon a reason, because the black/white, either/or thinkers are extremely uncomfortable with nuance, subtlety, and things that don’t fit strict categories or follow rigid authority. It’s scary out there after all.  It just occurred to me this morning and it makes complete sense. I think they would pick a better method of pastoral counsel though than the “you’re wrong, I’m right” approach. That’s why we left church in the first place; because of being constantly told not to trust ourselves, to follow rules, follow leadership and especially follow men. You see it’s especially ugly for them when women dare to leave the church. A woman without authority over her just cannot be countenanced. Quite frankly, I’ve always thought that women should leave the church in droves.  We’ll see if men could get any work done if they had to wash and iron their own vestments or church accouterments, polish all their sacramental cups and saucers, type their own sermons or bulletins, or watch their children. Men might have to {gasp} teach Sunday school or something! Oh my LORD! Cant’ have that. Women loose in the world is the downfall of Western civilization!

Afterthought: of course I do come off on these pages as someone with mixed emotions about religion. Like Anne Rice, I am sympathetic to open-minded, progressive spiritual persons who are trying to live a non-condemnatory kind of life. So I can see why I probably invite the criticism sometimes. However, I struggle to make sense of the world like everyone else. I just don’t like others telling me what to believe about ethics, politics, or philosophy without giving me the same courtesy.

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Cognitive Dissonance and My Religion

(Warning: Long post ahead)

(Disclaimer: Remember this blog is only a description of my spiritual journey and conclusions and should not be mistaken for “scientific research” or “rhetorical argument”)

There’s been much debate over at DeConversion blog about losing one’s faith. I’ve met pastors, doublethink.jpghousewives, scientists, philosophers, and people from every other walk of life who are in the throes of faith-loss. Many of us are in various stages of mourning. Some can get over it quickly and are upset with those of us who can’t. Some take forever (hand waving) and can’t seem to get a handle on their newfound loss of faith, who keep slipping back into mind-numbing fundie-think. But the majority of us realize that we can’t continue believing what we have and maintain our own integrity. There are those posting who are trying to talk us out of it. At least I think that’s what they are doing. I suppose they see it as a mission field or their duty or they may honestly be dealing with loss of faith issues themselves. I know I was when I first joined up.

I’ve tried for several years now to release myself from fundamentalism. It is indeed an insidious thought process. I think I just might have that part licked. I don’t know. But, it’s religion in general that I have a problem with now. What is fundamentalism? Well, the “fundamentals” are these:

The original formulation of American fundamentalist beliefs can be traced to the Niagara Bible Conference (1878–1897) and, in 1910, to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church which distilled these into what became known as the “five fundamentals”:[1]

  • Inerrancy of the Scriptures
  • The virgin birth and the deity of Jesus (Isaiah 7:14)
  • The doctrine of substitutionary atonement through God’s grace and human faith (Hebrews 9)
  • The bodily resurrection of Jesus (Matthew 28)
  • The authenticity of Christ’s miracles (or, alternatively, his pre-millennial second coming)[2]

If you believe these, you are a Christian fundamentalist. I can say that I most definitely do not believe in #1 any longer, nor is #2 necessary to faith. I also do not believe in miracles and gave up my belief in a premillenial second coming ages ago. These two things do not matter to faith either. (All of this begs the question, ‘is my intellectual assent to doctrine necessary at all when it comes to faith in a deity?’ But that’s clearly for another post.) Which leaves the atonement and resurrection, both centered on the man/god Jesus. I have yet to reconcile what I know is true in the real world and what we are told is true by ancient texts, bible interpreters, pastors, teachers, web sites, etc. I doubt I will ever reconcile it. And that is precisely because of this very dichotomy between reason and faith, between what we learn about life here and now and what we are told life is supposed to be about, between these two irreconcilable differences that will most likely never be reconciled, that most people of faith will either choose one of two paths. They will either quell all doubt whenever it occurs, believe what ancient texts tell them to believe, or they will try to understand why doubt persistently appears, explore why they believed at all, and deconvert. I’ve chosen to explore the latter.

What is this phenomenon of persistent doubt about the truth claims of Christianity or any other religion for that matter? Christians will tell you that a person of consistent doubt is probably not a “true” believer (1 John 2:19). That God will not answer the prayers of the double-minded and therefore we are doomed anyway (James 1:8). This tactic of us vs. them relieves them of the mystery of having deconverts in their midst (one of the few mysteries they refuse to accept by the way). Psychology comes in handy here when defining this kind of doubt. There’s a term called “cognitive dissonance” that explains a lot about what deconverts go through when they are confronted with new information that doesn’t jibe with what they used to believe:

According to cognitive dissonance theory, there is a tendency for individuals to seek consistency among their cognitions (i.e., beliefs, opinions). When there is an inconsistency between attitudes or behaviors (dissonance), something must change to eliminate the dissonance. In the case of a discrepancy between attitudes and behavior, it is most likely that the attitude will change to accommodate the behavior.

Two factors affect the strength of the dissonance: the number of dissonant beliefs, and the importance attached to each belief. There are three ways to eliminate dissonance: (1) reduce the importance of the dissonant beliefs, (2) add more consonant beliefs that outweigh the dissonant beliefs, or (3) change the dissonant beliefs so that they are no longer inconsistent….

Let’s examine why someone of faith might experience cognitive dissonance. Take the example of what Christian’s call “God’s love.” We are told over and over that a God loves us. It was one of the main reason I converted to faith to begin with. It was such an appealing idea to believe that there was someone over and above the human that would love me; that there was something called “God’s unconditional love.” But wait, there’s a catch. God’s love is not unconditional at all. We are told that God loves us, yes, but hates us too because of inherent sin. God’s now in a quandary. He’s (sic) got some cognitive dissonance of his own to deal with. We are told that the very fact that we aren’t dead right now is because God got tired of destroying the world due to sin after he caused the flood. Therefore, we should be most thankful God doesn’t wipe us off the face of the earth again because of our sin (which he caused us to have by creating us capable of it; another mystery). Now, witness that there are wars, plagues, famines, child abuse, droughts, tsunamis, 9/11’s, serial killers, and other phenomena. We are told this is our own fault. Again we are told God loves us, but chooses not to stay these disasters for our own good, you know, much like a mother who would allow her child to get run over by a car to teach them not to play in traffic! God wishes he could, but really, it’s for our own good or destruction that he doesn’t intervene. This belief is not consistent; a God who loves yet does nothing about evil. Yet millions of Christians try to reconcile it by saying it is a “mystery.” We can’t understand it! Don’t even try, just accept. Yet, there are those of us who refuse to accept it. It’s senseless. Therefore, we must give up the belief to relieve the dissonance. We have no choice. It’s not reasonable to believe consistently contrary evidence.

Therefore, the only logical conclusion for the Christian is to see that we aren’t really worth that much if God never intervenes. We are certainly taught that the earth is not worth much. We hear that the only thing of worth is the hereafter. The only concern we should have is where we will spend eternity AFTER we die. That’s it. That’s all the Christian lives for is death. While we are here, living our lives, we should always think of our lives after death. Everything we are taught is geared toward heaven or hell. Every thought is taken captive toward that end, nothing else matters. Now there will be numerous Christians ready to defend all of their beliefs with various arguments. But they are all trying to reconcile inconsistencies in their own faith systems. My point is that some of us choose not to reconcile what cannot be reconciled. Rather than have faith in a “mystery” we choose to face it head on and realize the god of Christianity is not as “loving” as we were told. Examining scriptures closely bears this out, as does simply looking at life as it is lived out by billions every day. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that there is a god who LOVES this world in any meaningful sense of the word. (Absence of destruction is not evidence by the way)

Meaningless also are the actions we are told we must do in order to be made acceptable to such a god. Actions that signify nothing but the reflection of ancient purification laws and holy codes, are encouraged as signs that we are trying to clean up our lives in order to be ready for heaven. Doctrinal assent is another action we are told will effect our eternal destiny. If such actions are not performed then hell awaits us. We are told that by living a holy life, even though no one can precisely define “holy” consistently, God will love us. This also begs the question, “why live a holy life if Jesus saved you anyway?” What difference would it make how we live if Jesus’ act of dying and rising “brought salvation” to the world? In fact, the larger question would be, what difference would our lives make to any god outside space and time or even inside space and time, where destruction and creation go hand in hand? Of course, the first thing Christians will do is point to various passages of the bible to prove this or that point, but there is no evidence that god sanctioned such texts as authoritative at all. Why should we believe what ancients had to say? And besides, reliance on such texts for thousands of years certainly hasn’t proven that a god exists, let alone a god who loves.

Take another example, churchgoing. When we become Christians we are told over and over that not to go to church is tantamount to not having faith. We are told that there are no “lone Christians” that we are meant to worship in groups, etc, etc. This is obviously a tactic by those in charge to stay in charge and keep their salaries coming in by enforcing tithes and offerings. If no one went to church, then no one would be susceptible to their teachings and group-think. There would be no guilt foisted upon people Sunday after Sunday. And, there would be no money for these “ministries.” Psychology says that the herd mentality is again at work here. No one likes to think they are believing things alone, especially unprovable things, so they convince themselves of its necessity:

Here are some examples [if group behaviors and cognitive dissonance] provided by Morton Hunt in his classic work ‘The Story of Psychology’:

* When trying to join a group, the harder they make the barriers to entry, the more you value your membership. To resolve the dissonance between the hoops you were forced to jump through, and the reality of what turns out to be a pretty average club, we convince ourselves the club is, in fact, fantastic.
* People will interpret the same information in radically different ways to support their own views of the world. When deciding our view on a contentious point, we conveniently forget what jars with our own theory and remember everything that fits…. [parentheses mine]

This describes the Christian to a T. Deny, deny, deny. The first obvious step then in resolving our dissonance is to stop going to or stop reading where we get most of our group-think messages; church and bible. Shutting off the source of dissonance is necessary in recovery. So, now I’m back to where I started; explaining why it’s better to relieve the dissonance by not believing, by not going to church, by not reading a bible. Rather than play numerous mind games with myself about this or that inconsistency in the bible or this or that contradictory teaching by pastors and teachers in various churches, I choose to not hear it at all. I choose to close off the conduits of unreason and contradiction. I choose to go by the evidence right in front of me rather than the “evidence” we were offered, all of which never proved to be true except in our own minds. Edward Babinski, a famous deconvert, wrote:

Fundamentalist Christianity was for me an 11-year ordeal of confusion, self-censorship and self-abasement. After the joy of my initial religious experience wore off, I moved into the modus operandi of Christian fundamentalists everywhere: I shut down emotionally and instead relied on the Bible to dictate my feelings. In Christian fundamentalist circles this is known as “living by faith.”

I felt as if I was issuing a direct challenge to God himself, and lived in great fear of divine retribution. My doubts led me to discover that it was indeed possible to make sense of life, to make decisions for myself, to set and attain goals, and to know my own heart. My spiritual path forked. Do I remain true to honesty, or true to the faith? I chose honesty. Thus was I deconverted. (Babinski, Edward T., Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of former Fundamentalists, Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1995)

Many of the faith will say we weren’t true Christians, or we did not understand how to live the Christian life, or that we misunderstood what we were taught, or ________ (insert favorite excuse here), but that’s just a form of rationalization and their own cognitive dissonance speaking. All I know is that my head’s clear for the first time in years (especially minus the Lipitor! 🙂 ). So why do those of us leaving the fold keep discussing it? Because it only takes a moment to fall for a belief system that claims to have all the answers, but it takes years and years to recover from it. Blogging is therapy.

Open Mouth, Insert…Forgiveness?

I think I’ve “stepped in it” over at DeConversion blog. In an attempt to be honest about my life, and encourage an openslforgiveness_lrg.jpg discussion about the concept of forgiveness, I’ve really backed myself into a corner. A poster named “Atheist” offered the insight that perhaps I was not at peace with myself and my concept of the God of the bible. Methinks he/she is right. I’m not at peace. I want to be at peace. I want to either be this or that, but never am. I guess the definition of forgiveness should have been explored in my post first, but I always write truest and best when I am in the throes of spiritual struggle. The spiritual struggle here being my concept of forgiveness, while de-toxing from christian fundamentalism. In this case, it’s interesting that people have come at the post mostly from the emotional and spiritual angle. What other angle is there you ask? Why the legal angle, of course. The responsibility and restitution angle. In this passage, Jesus seems to be saying that forgiveness is a debt AND is an emotion:

21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone[a] who sins against me? Seven times?”

22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven![b]

23 “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. 24 In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars.[c] 25 He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.

26 “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ 27 Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.

28 “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars.[d] He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.

29 “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. 30 But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.

31 “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. 32 Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ 34 Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.

35 “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters[e] from your heart.”

Notice that the one who offends owes a debt. The one offended against experiences the emotion and has the responsibility to correct that emotion. Notice also the phrase, “from your heart.” What does that mean? We have to FEEL forgiveness truly before we have truly forgiven anyone? God doesn’t accept a rote forgiveness, the releasing of debt without the emotional rancor involved? Or like the judge, are we merely forgiving a debt owed to us? To make things even more complicated (in my view), I received this in my email at work this morning (from a newsletter I subscribe to) and I received it AFTER I wrote the post at DeConversion blog:

Forgiveness, The Cement of Community Life by Henri Nouwen
Community is not possible without the willingness to forgive one another “seventy-seven times” (see Matthew 18:22). Forgiveness is the cement of community life. Forgiveness holds us together through good and bad times, and it allows us to grow in mutual love.

But what is there to forgive or to ask forgiveness for? As people who have hearts that long for perfect love, we have to forgive one another for not being able to give or receive that perfect love in our everyday lives. Our many needs constantly interfere with our desire to be there for the other unconditionally. Our love is always limited by spoken or unspoken conditions. What needs to be forgiven? We need to forgive one another for not being God!

Now here, Nouwen is discussing the community of church and Christians gathering together. That kind of forgiveness is easy (for me anyway) and the sins are not as grievous. But what do you do about forgiving someone who never asks for forgiveness, has no remorse, and is not a Christian? Who has hurt you body and soul; who has torn out your innocence and stomped on it? Am I obligated to forgive emotionally or as far as the debt owed is concerned? What do you do if there’s no possibility of someone asking your forgiveness because of death or another permanent barrier? I understand the benefits of being relieved of hate, rage, vengeful feelings, and other such things that accompany being offended against, but changing your emotions psychologically is not the same as forgiving a debt. I see forgiveness as debt cancellation. Is that wrong? What is forgiveness exactly? Must it always be couched in religious and spiritual terms?

Here, notice that Jesus adds “if he repents…” in the Luke passage:

Luke 17:3-4, “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, `I repent,’ forgive him.

Right now, I’m free of hate toward those who’ve grievously offended me, but I think they still owe me a debt and they have never repented nor asked forgiveness. It’s taken a very long time to no longer feel the anger and betrayal and sometimes I still have those feelings, but I don’t seek revenge. Therefore, does the burden of forgiveness ALWAYS rest on the person offended against and why should that be so? Does anyone understand what I’m trying to say here or have I come up with some solution for me alone and a generally incomprehensible idea or can we indeed separate emotion from the responsibility of forgiveness and restitution?

I guess all this is predicated on your definition of God and forgiveness and justice. I’m still struggling with all that too. Remember, I believe the bible is a guide, not the last word. I’m coming at this from the viewpoint that we cannot know anything for sure and from an honest struggle to live spiritually in an extremist world, that’s all.

Fair and Balanced at Christmas Time?

For the holiday season can we expect fair and balanced writing from Christians? Can we expect it from those who no longer claim Christianity as their chosen religion? Sometimes we can. DeConversion blog is having a nice conversation about what good, and the obvious bad, the church has done through the years. (Several good points in the comments as well).

I have found myself back in church recently. Have I gone because of Christmas? I doubt it. I’ve gone because I cannot find the level of friendship in my personal life than that shared by fellow believers at church. Do I believe the same way they do? Nope. Do I feel pressure to? Nope, not this time around. I couldn’t care less what others believe. And frankly, I couldn’t care less what I believe from one day to the next. I used to obsess that my beliefs weren’t in line with some doctrinal line or another. No longer. I take what’s good out of the bible and leave the rest. I enjoy ritual and need the connection it gives me to my spirituality, if not to a mystical god. I’ve gone to a more liberal denomination with a more upbeat message (kept to a clean 15 minutes) and no obsessions about bible study. The emphasis is on loving one another as a community and sharing joys and concerns with each other. For me, that’s enough. What’s past is past. History is history.

My emphasis here on this blog is what I hope to emphasize in real life…point out hypocrisy, criticize without condemnation, study without legalistic proscriptions for others to follow, and just explore the wacky world of the internet. Live and let live seems good. My opinions are just that. I hope they are helpful, but if no one likes them, I can’t help that. All I just want to do is write and write faithfully to whatever purpose it is out there in the universe for. Perhaps the purpose is nothing at all. But, that’s ok too.

Merry Christmas!

Deconstructing My Faith & Retrieving My Personhood

Painting courtesy of Christine Vaillancourt

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Christianity for the last 20 years. It’s been a long, long time since I fully, truly believed in its tenets or its “authority.” At one time I would have defended it to the death if I had to. But, things started going downhill for me when I first discovered that there were hundreds and thousands of different beliefs and doctrines and sects. Most of the differences were within the Christian church alone. I should have taken my first clue from the fact that no two churches believed 100% alike, even the Catholic Church which claimed to be the ULTIMATE truth. I think when I first realized that there was no unity of belief or doctrine, it set the stage for everything that followed.

The next sacred cow to be murdered was the doctrine of the inerrancy of the bible. Once that stranglehold of “faith” was broken, I could think clearly for the first time. It’s as if a breath of fresh air descended upon me. Some say education truly begins when you can step outside of your binding beliefs and see the world from another’s eyes. Don’t just imagine it. Truly step inside another’s beliefs and LIVE it for a while. Only then are you attempting to learn. So, university showed me that looking at an institution from the inside is not the only picture of the institution. You need to step out of the building and walk around it and peer in so that you get the whole picture. Observe it, take notes, interview others. Those who are peering at the world through the pages of a book will never get the whole picture. They need to close the book and start looking at and experiencing the world directly. They need to quit forcing something upon themselves and learn to live from the inside out.

All these steps were vital in forming my world view AND for simultaneously deconstructing my world view. (I’m not using the term as literary theory uses it (nod to Derrida), but as a literal unpacking and examining of contents). In fact, I think the prepackaged world view Christianity offered to paste over my personality was beginning to self destruct the moment I first began believing in it. I just didn’t realize it at the time. Well, how much I truly disagreed with Christianity came to the fore this morning when I cracked open the cover of the October issue of Christianity Today. The entire issue was devoted to Christianity’s chief bugaboos: the sexual “sins” of Divorce, Homosexuality, and Masturbation. Yes the old DHM, the trinity of sins that dare not speak it’s name. Oh there were other things sprinkled throughout the magazine on a variety of prepackaged subjects, but the offenses against my beliefs were almost too numerous to mention. First there is a wishful thinking article called “The Death of Blogs” by Ted Olson. Olson wants to believe desperately that the democratizing internet and the art of blogging will fall by the wayside soon. I suspect because atheism and the subsequent blogs about atheism are making huge inroads in challenging Christianity and exposing the charlatans of the movement. They sooooo want everyone to get back in the closet and keep quiet. Fortunately, this won’t happen soon.

The next offense was a series of articles about divorce and remarriage. While it may have been a good analysis of biblical ideas of divorce, I was totally put off by Ginger Kolbaba who writes that she is pretty peeved that she is second in her husband’s marriage career. She says it’s like being the Runner up at a beauty pageant. You “win” but nobody knows about it. She then says,

That pageant is the story of my marriage. I’m a runner-up wife, I’m not a first in my husband’s life. I’m a second. And, technically, I’ll always be second. Yes, I got the crown and all the privileges; the parades, the photo-ops, a great trophy husband. But I never got to experience the applause for being announced as first. His ex-wife experienced the firsts with him: first walk down the aisle, first love, first sexual experience, first house, first child….There are moments when I mourn that, when I mourn the loss of my dream to be the first (33).

There are so many things wrong with this statement and the rest of the article, and on so many levels, that I’ll let you sort it all out for yourself, but please, does anyone else EVER think this way? She mourns being first? It sounds to me like someone living in la-la land, not to mention that what she imagines are his firsts, probably really aren’t! I wouldn’t care if my husband married me after a disastrous first marriage. I could care less if he had sexual experience “first” with someone else. I do not worship or idolize virginity. It’s irrelevant to any future relationship. I could go on, but you get the idea.

The next set of articles spoke of the ex-gay movement in Christianity and the very few Christian “researchers” who are trying desperately to disprove that homosexuality is genetic or deny that it is something so innate it cannot be changed. Never mind that more reputable scholars have proven them wrong again and again. They still search on and try to convince themselves that it’s the unforgivable sin. (Oh, wait, the unforgivable sin was divorce!) The usual father and mother blaming is implied, as well as the refusal to see the opposite stance, that homosexuality is not in some dichotomous dance with heterosexuality. They refuse to see that all beings have the ability to be omnisexual. There aren’t just two sexes; that indeed some are born both sexes. What are they? Nor do they explain why some people are bisexual. Again, they assume that what is the norm for them is the norm for the whole world. Even then it’s only focused on men. Why? Because the reasons they give for male homosexuality do not jibe with the reasons for lesbianism. The mish-mash of theories goes on. Yet, they use language that alcoholics use when they say, “the urge never goes away.” Excuse me? I thought it was curable. Hmmm. Sounds like heterosexuality to me. Can we change that? The senseless demonization goes on.

After making my way through a specious article by John Piper about the sexual “failure” in the act of masturbation, I’d had enough. The only failure is such medieval views of sexuality exhibited in this issue. Oh and don’t forget this gem of a quote from Chuck Colson’s closing column, “We worship at the altar of the bitch goddess of tolerance.” On that note, I was done. It never occurred to me all at once before, as it did at that very moment, how much Christianity tries to force you into a particular mode of life, regardless of your genetic makeup, your background, your hormones, or your brain activity. The cult of Christianity appeals to our emotions first by offering itself as a panacea for all problems. It sentimentally offers Jesus as someone who will stand invisibly by your side and LISTEN to everything you have to say (and conversely watch sternly everything you do). But after reality sets in, AND IT WILL SET IN, we are offered a panoply of further teachings to try to “explain” why people consistently fail to live up to the Christian message. I know I failed at it consistently. Then I realized something.…I didn’t fail. I realized that Christianity is not a normal way of life. I realized that it wasn’t Christianity that got me through the hard, hard childhood and teen years. It was me. And I did it through my strength and through my experience in life. Christianity is based on 1st century concepts and morals that were never meant to explain to or provide for the 21st century audience. It is a theory imposed from the outside onto people who are so different and so wonderfully complex that to force us into prefab jell-o molds of philosophy and thought is the height of absurdity. Most people come to their senses and realize what they’ve been trying to do with yet another world philosophy. But sadly others don’t. Like me they hang tenaciously onto the “fun” times, like a divorced couple who remembers all the good times and not the bad, and who keep reconciling. Only to realize that it never worked and will not work again. It’s irretrievably broken. It’s time to move on.

I think, for me, it’s finally time to move on. To stop trying to force my life into what Christians say it should be. It no longer fits and I have grown out of the desperate need that precipitated my move toward faith to begin with. There’s nothing like reading about something and hearing your inner voice saying, “No, no, that’s not what I believe. That’s not me” to make you realize how much it no longer fits. How disagreeable such a hateful and narrow faith system really is. I think I’m finally ready to lay it down for the last time.