A very brief flirtation

sent in by Barry

A friend of mine posted here recently, so I wanted to do the same. I grew up in a not very religious Methodist family. We only went to church 4 to 5 times a year. However, I always considered myself Christian, believing Jesus died to sacrifice for our sins. But I never thought about what that meant.

In my freshman year of college, I met a very cute born again Christian, who I'll call Kate. Her father walked out when she was just seven. He never bothered to see her again. The trauma of being abandoned drove her to drinking, drugs and unsafe sex. Then at 16, she found Christ. She quit drinking and drugs and became one of those born again virgins. Jesus, she said, saved her from her inner demons. I was fascinated by her and her story (which she almost immediately told to everyone she met).

Anyway, we started going out and I got into the whole born again thing. I really enjoyed church and bible study and all the get-togethers. Everyone was very nice and friendly. Then a problem emerged. All of these people took the Bible literally including the six days of creation. I saw the creation story for what it was; a primitive people's attempt to explain the origin of the world. I'm part Cherokee, so I knew that every culture had its own creation story.

I couldn't help but think that these people were really gullible and unquestioning. From this seed other doubts emerged. I started to question the whole thing about Jesus. This is where my questioning led:

"God creates flawed humans. He creates an evil being to tempt these humans to do bad things. He decides he won't let these humans into heaven to be with him because they do bad things called sins. Of course, since God created everything he was the one responsible for creating sin and evil in the first place, which is probably the reason God decides to relent 4000 years later. He will send himself to Earth as his son to save everyone. So, he impregnates a young virgin and she gives birth to him. Now oddly enough God is both in heaven and on Earth at the same time. God prays to himself and calls himself father. Then God has himself tortured and brutally murdered. Now in doing this he somehow atones for the sins that he himself created. Believing that God (in the form of his son) did this for us gets us into heaven. However, if we don’t believe that God did this for us, his atonement does not apply and we are sent south to spend eternity with his nemesis."

I couldn't help but think that if I were God I would do things in a much less complicated way. Like, I would create perfect humans, so I wouldn't have to go through all that suffering. Or I would just forgive sins without requiring any blood sacrifice. Or maybe I wouldn’t bother creating humans in the first place and just create more angels to worship me.

Anyway, I told Kate my doubts and she couldn't answer me. She brought in a guy I'll call Dave to help. Dave came from a “secular” family. His parents went through a nasty divorce and custody fight when he was 10. Dave blamed his parents’ lack of religious values for the divorce.

Dave and I got into a long discussion. He never really addressed my questions. He talked around them and he talked so much I was sort of overwhelmed. After a few hours of failure to answer my questions Dave resorted to telling me it was part of a plan that we will understand once we are in heaven. I told him this was a copout. He then told me I would never be happy without Christ in my life. Christian values are an anchor. Without that anchor we will be adrift in chaos and immorality. Anyway, he failed to convince me. Kate and I broke up that night after three months together. Dave and Kate got married in their senior year of college.

Last year, I went to McDonalds for coffee after doing a job interview. I ran into Dave and his two children. He told me he and Kate filed for divorce a week after their first wedding anniversary. I was stunned. He told me that sexual frustration wasn’t exactly the best foundation to build a marriage on. They had a daughter. A few months after the separation Kate handed the baby over to Dave and to his surprise offered him full custody. It turned out she was using again. She has been in and out of rehab for the past five years.

I was so upset when I heard this because Kate really was a lovely girl. I felt sad that religion didn’t help her conquer her inner demons after all. Dave said that religion can have a placebo effect. He said maybe it can help some people overcome their problems permanently but he said he had met enough drunken, drug using, anti-depressant popping, sex addicted, abusive and divorced born again Christians to know that religion is not the cure-all it promises to be. As he put it Jesus was a real person, but Jesus the Christ is just a myth. He said belief in a myth can only do so much for a person. Dave said he soured of religion after his marriage went bad. Christian values did not help him avoid the same fate as his parents.

He said he is happy now. He is married again and he is a stay-at-home dad. He apologized for preaching to me but he said he truly believed in what he was saying. He said that between his strong desire to believe and the peer pressure and groupthink from the born again people he was always with, nothing I said would have shaken his faith. But as his marriage crumbled everything I said came back to him and made perfect sense.

I realized that this was the difference between me, and Kate and Dave. I came from a happy, close-knit family. I did not have any holes in my life to fill, so I didn’t “need” religion. I think need is a big part of why people embrace religion.

My wife and I are both spiritual people. We are very interested in Cherokee wisdom, and we love to study and discuss issues related to morality and ethics. But we are opposed to organized religion. People should seek truth and wisdom themselves and not depend on flawed clerics and corrupt religious institutions (which are simply businesses) to do it for them.

14 comments:

Melissa said...

Barry,

Welcome to the oasis! Your story has a good message to it and I enjoyed reading it very much. You did a great job conveying those life experiences that have guided you to have more of a spiritual view which seems to reflect that you hold the natural world sacred.

Barry said:"I came from a happy, close-knit family. I did not have any holes in my life to fill, so I didn’t “need” religion. I think need is a big part of why people embrace religion."

I think that had alot to do with my letting go of religious faith as well. I have a BIG family too and we all share in this life together, even across the miles.

Glad you have found your own peace and may you continue to be a shining example of enlightenment for this overly religious world.

I May be going to hell in a bucket,
but at least I'm enjoying the ride.
(Uh, the imaginary playpen of fire)

Take care,

jim earl said...

Thanks Barry, for a well written and interesting story. You said some wise things in your story and I enjoyed reading it as well. As Melissa commented, we do live in an overly religious world. Most people would rather believe than rock the boat. Myself, I'm a boat rocker. Take care and good luck in all you do. Visit my website if you want to know more about me and my world: www.freefish.us

Bentley said...

You're exactly right Barry, why do so many people of today rely on something that ignorant people wrote down, over 2000 yrs. ago?

It's like, well they weren't as corrupt as we are today, so it must be true, or that they were closer to god than we are today, it's like thinking that people born way before us, had more knowledge than we do today, which simply is not true.

I liked your God analogy too! Ever watched the TV show, Deal Or No Deal? The Banker(god) furnishes all the money, then the contestant has to guess which case has the least money, and the banker tries to buy back the case which has his own money in it, in the end, they always say that they made a great deal, when all the while it was the bankers money to begin with. It was really no deal to begin with. What idiots! TC Ben

Bentley said...

Hi Barry, Just got back from reading the Cherokee Creation Story, reminds me of the Naoh's Ark Story, I'm sure that story satisfied a many inquisitive wonderers, just as the Bible's answers are satisfactory for most people, willing to accept whatever answer their parents told them was true.
Thanks for sharing!
Ben

Lorena said...

Barry,

What a great story. My favourite part is that Dave deconverted and that the discussion he had with you helped him see the "light."

It is encouraging to know that even when we are talking to someone who seems a strong christian, whatever we say may still have an effect years later.

Best,

Lorena

Jim said...

Life is a ball once we can overcome this religious tripe.

Anonymous said...

What I find here is a group of people trying to find acceptance and justification for their unbelief in God and Jesus Christ. When are you going to realize that your opinions, as well as mine, don't matter one way or the other. God provided to us his thoughts in the Holy Scriptures which state "if you love me, keep my commandments", and except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." I pity you when you find out that God is truth, that it will be too late. I don't blame you for enjoying yourselves now, you won't be able to when you're in the Lake of Fire. I hope you find out the truth before it is too late!!!!!

boomSLANG said...

Hello fundy intruder(who's too lame to use the "other" button),

It's both interesting and mind numbing how you use the word "opinion", but yet, then you turn right around and you speak so matter-of-factly, like you KNOW that what you believe is some kind of objective "Truth".

Christian fundamentalism: A never ending barrage of self-rightiousness, circular reasoning, and contradictions---all backed up with NOTHING but ignorance and wishful thinking.

Do us a favor, Anon---when you get to Islamic Hell for doubting the Q'ran?.....tell us how your foot tastes....'k dork?

Jim Arvo said...

Anonymous: "What I find here is a group of people trying to find acceptance and justification for their unbelief in God and Jesus Christ."

What I hear from you is defensiveness. I'm willing to wager that you haven't the foggiest idea why we think your religion is purely mythical. You probably have absolutely no idea how much incriminating evidence there is about your religion. Yet, somehow, you feel justified in making crass assertions about us. I think that's highly irresponsible of you. It's also rude.

Anonymous: "When are you going to realize that your opinions, as well as mine, don't matter one way or the other."

Yet, here you are, offering us your opinion on the matter, are you not? Is your opinion somehow more meaningful than ours? If you think it is, I'd be very curious to hear your justification.

Anonymous: "God provided to us his thoughts in the Holy Scriptures which state..."

Is that so? More opinion from you. Have you anything but "faith" to suggest that the scripture you quote is more legitimate than dozens of other "holy" books?

Anonymous: "I pity you when you find out that God is truth, that it will be too late."

I don't need your pity. Do you want mine? If you do, I'll gladly extend it, for I find it sad when people are so taken in by religious mythology (i.e. confusing allegory for fact) that they look down on those who do not share their (unfounded) beliefs. They tend to say really condescending and hateful things, such as "I pity you", and "you'll find yourself in Hell", etc. I truly do find is sad that so many religionists fail to recognize the difference between fact and opinion.

Anonymous: "I don't blame you for enjoying yourselves now, you won't be able to when you're in the Lake of Fire."

Wow, such compassion. Such persuasive rhetoric. I don't blame you for clinging to your comforting fairytale now; you won't be able to when you're dead.

Anonymous: "I hope you find out the truth before it is too late!!!!!"

Best wishes to you too. Bye now.

JTFINALLYFREE said...

Hey Anony-mouse. I love how you great christians come in here and threaten everyone with hellfire and damnation. Your a GREAT witness to your fairytale faith! Thanks for the laugh you self centered self righteous hypocrite. You "humble" christians never cease to amaze me with the all the hate filled venom you love to spew out. After spending nearly twelve years in the church it was self righteous judgmental know it alls like yourself who made me realize that I definitely needed to make a u-turn in life. Thanks for the laugh and further confirmation that I made the right choice in life. Thanks again jackass!!!

Jamie said...

hey, im a Christian, i used to be an atheist over three years ago, until experiences i went through changed my faith in a 180, which ill share if you or anyone emails me (jamiehoban@shaw.ca), i cant answer all your questions with extreme depth, for one ill show proverbs 3:5 "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding." we dont always understand God, ive been here for 21 years, Gods been here for eternity, and is perfect, i dont expect to understand everything about him, but i do know for our sins we needed atonement that we have nothing to pay, do out of love he gave his only son, comming down to earth and setting aside his own glory to die for us, as a sacrifice, i also know God didnt create evil, he created Lucifer whom was perfect in Gods sight in all ways,

and decided he wanted to take Gods glory

14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
14:13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:


you also asked why he wouldnt create perfect people, he gave us a choice to love him, if we didnt have a choice the love wouldnt be as pure, and if you read in the bible of the angels worship opposed to mans worship, its more intimate, and more direct, thats my thoughts on that

well thats all the help i can really provide....alot of it comes with just believing Gods word, and believing the bible, in the end its, ya either believe it or ya dont

feel free to email me....much love

Anonymous said...

Nah!!! Thanks Jamie, but No Thanks!!

You've posted the same shit before, now shoo!! Lame brain!!

Dano said...

Yay! Jamie's back. He's 21 now, but he still has all of the earmarks of a simple minded brain washed, born again, who has poor writing and thinking skills, and he still has allusions that he can help us learn to believe the same load of mythological crap that is keeping him stupid.

Someone please e-mail this poor kid. He is SO lonesome!
Dan (Who can actually remember being like Jamie for a very brief time once, many years ago)

Anonymous said...

Carl Sagan stated that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. If there were indeed really extraordianry proof that God exists and there is a plan of salvation people would indeed embrace it. Unfortunatly that proof is nonexistant. Christians assume that non-Christians willfully reject salvation out of pure defiance. Fact is if all the God stuff were really be true then I would be first in line. However the proof just isn't there. I know---I have studied for the ministry and my questions to my professors were not welcomed but I was prayed for a lot (hehe). Give us poor sinners a break. We may know more than we are letting on.

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