This is my first attempt to explain my brain, so, bear with me?

The first part of my life was a blur with only a few memories that stood out. I do remember going to church with my grandmother and wondering why people were kneeling in front of the bench with their heads down and looking very grim. As I grew older, my mother and step-dad didn't go to church and neither did me and my brother. I don't think we (my brother and I) cared about going to church, except to make my grandmother happy. She would say, "Are you boys going to church with me today? I sure would be glad to have somebody come along. I think you boys need to go, wanna come with me?" Something like that.

Anyway, it was like that for most of my life and I wondered why people believed in god. I could believe that Jesus was real because I knew that there were stories about people in history and how great they were, so, I thought it was pretty much the same thing. A history lesson. For the most part, I thought I was doing the right thing to believe in god and his "son". When people in the church or around me elsewhere would say good things about being christian, I believed it and felt the same way, except that I didn't go advertising and preaching like others. I thought it was too arrogant and shameful to be trying to tell people about something that they could care less about. Guess I was wrong. My peers acted high and mighty and I shuddered at it and wondered why their heads were so big just because they "believed" in "Him". I was taught to be humble in serving god and that if people wanted to believe in him, I should help to guide them on their path to being closer to their creator.

Of course, the confusion didn't stop there. I was informed by my peers that other religions were evil and that any other act that didn't have to do with the "Lord" was vain and to serve this divine king was to live. I couldn't see that, but, I still pretended that I was one of them to "fit in". I stopped after a little while of doing this. Hell, I was in band in middle school and my band director would hold bible studies at his house with all of us attending. I could tell that I wasn't the only one who was there to hang out with my peers and fit in. I laugh about it to this day, thinking, "What was I doing?" The point that made me realize that it was dumb was when my band director said that he was out with a couple of his christian friends at a restaurant and their waitress stood out to them. They saw that she wore all black and she had a pentagram around her neck. This is where the stupidity and cruelty of the christian faith kicks in. They asked her if she knew Jesus and her reply was that he was a good man. I don't even remember what they said to her because, at that point, I knew that it was going to be a stupid remark, but, in the end it made the poor girl walk away crying! At this, my director laughed and encouraged my peers to laugh too. I thought it was the meanest thing someone could do to another person. Especially since she was working and I would hate to be embarassed at work like that.

So, it was then that I started to think of ways that I could have said something back if I were the girl at the restaurant. I think that was when my direction toward the faith started to take a gradual shift in the opposite way. It was throughout high school that I started to study different religions and their beliefs. I found it particularly interesting and comforting that my true beliefs were parallel to a religion other than christianity. The ones that stood out to me were Taoism and Buddhism. Mostly, Taoism. So, I studied it more extensively in private and didn't really share my studies with anybody else. I hid it like I would either get in trouble about it or get ridiculed. I didn't really care, but, I think I would have been embarassed because it was different.

Anyway, I still pretended to be christian, and sometimes tried to get back into it, and married my high school sweetheart after I graduated. I signed into the military and started my career and my family. Over 4 years I'd been studying various different religions and spiritualities, including pagan. Specifically, Wiccan and Druid. I found it stimulating to my mind that I could get into these other religions just like I could with christianity. They have a sort of initiating process to get started, you pray to a deity/deities, they have focal points of prayer (chistianitycross/jesus on cross, paganaltar/deity image, buddhism/buddha figure, etc.).

After a while, I started looking into Buddhism and Taoism again and found that they were better suited for my personality, mind, and spirituality. I found that they made more sense than ol' christianity. Of course, my wife is still christian and I've expressed my disinterest in christianity to her, but, she still thinks that I'll just "come around". I choose to ignore that though until she tries to question me about it again. I've already made up my mind. Christianity isn't for me. It's mostly for people that can't find any other way to keep their minds in check than the bible. I find that the bible was made up by man, written by man, with man thoughts, man mentalities, and the man ego (when I say "man", I mean mankind, but, you can interpret it the other way too). I consider myself a free-thinker and wouldn't have it any other way. I'm not ruling out the possibility of a god, but, I'm also not ruling it in. There's no way to prove either case. If I'm wrong, I don't believe the buybull's version of the afterlife. All I can do is see what happens!


eel_shepherd said...

How are you and your wife handling the kid question? Sending them to Sunday school, keeping them from Sunday school, letting them make up their own minds, alternating between Sunday school and exposure to atheist/agnostic meetings, or none of the above?

Steven Bently said...

Well you certainly have proven to me that you have a brain, and you have refused to let it continue to be hi-jacked by fundamentalist bs.

Religions boast a camaraderie of elitism between it's members to make others on the outside appear to be less than them, because they have been told that they hold something more precious than anyone else, a belief in a virgin born savior.

Just by their claiming ownership to a belief, makes them feel superior than people that do not share their silly beliefs.

They have been told that their (net worth)is much more than someone that does not have a belief, this makes them feel good that they had the gumption to get up on Sunday morning and be setting there in the church, this also increases the preachers(net worth)by saying this to them.

ryan said...

I wanted to make a comment about the waitress. I have worked for many years in restaurants, here and there, and I have a soft spot for a waitress. They put up with a lot of shit, and much of it comes from xristians.

xristian women are the worst. I have seem them treat a waitress like a whore.

You know, their religion teaches them that women are lower than men. That is for goddamned sure.

crz53 said...

I understand your situation with your wife completely. I was raised Lutheran as was my wife. I work at a Lutheran school, and until relatively recently, went to a Lutheran church. A year and a half ago, I finally had the courage to be intellectually honest with myself and admit that my personal beliefs about god didn't match those of the Christian church. I currently consider myself agnostic/deist. This bothered my wife very much. Her main coincern seemed to be what woiuld happen when our 3 young children got old enough to start asking why daddy doesn't go to church. Out of repsect for her beliefs, I agreed to go to church with her and the kids, however, I maintained that I had the right to tell the kids about my beliefs as they got older. I fully intend to let them make up theirown minds about god. We did this for a while, but then she told me not to bother coming anymore because I just stood there and didn't participate.
She's told me that she keeps hoping that I'll change. It's frustrating to have someone you love be so intolerant of your beliefs. I hope you're able to work things out with your family.
- Mike Lorenz

muttmutt1978 said...

Its funny, i was also drawn to Taoism many times in my life, and i realized, that this is where God wants me to be. I was fortunate because i met my husband after i deconverted from christianity, hes a Pagan like myself, but not a Taoist. I hope things work out for you, i reccomend you give your children the te of piglet by benjamin hoff, its a great read, and your kids will learn about your beliefs that way.

ken said...

I, too, have investigated Buddhism and Yoga (the Patanjali kind, not the stretchy kind) and find them very appealing. I do find a lot of parallels between them and a very very mystical Christianity --- something like we are God but just don't know it. Or, more accurately, have just forgotten it. Ken Wilber also talks about this.

One question for you is: What kind(s) of spiritual practice(s) do you do?

One of my goals for this year is to start a spiritual practice. I feel that I've been badmouthing everyone else's long enough without having one of my own.

I got involved for a short time with a local Tibetan Buddhist center but felt that it was just Christianity in monk robes. It seemed like it only attracted Christians who wanted to be able to say they weren't Christian but still wanted the soft fuzzies of a very Christian-like worship service.

Jamie said...

I find it very difficult to talk to my wife about this stuff. It seems there is a huge, unbridgable chasm between what she and I think. More and more her responses to me just sound like 'churchspeak', and it's difficult for me to take to heart.

The thing is, she is very happy in her religion. For her, religion seems to be a good thing that makes her feel happy and free (the complete opposite of what it does for me). I won't presume to dismiss her experience as unreal, it's just an experience that I don't share.

The hardest part about it, though, is not being able to talk to her about what I'm thinking. I'm an extrovert, and talking out loud is often how I puzzle things out. When she responds with a "churchspeaky" response, I tend to just shut down and not bother. It really is making our relationship more difficult.

On a surprising and positive note, I went to our "care group" last night without her so that I could take the kids. Even though I left church a month ago, I've agreed to keep going to the weekly small group. Last night I was able to say right out that I've become an agnostic and that my belief in the bible has been smashed. The response was much better than expected (partially because these people have become friends, not just church-mates). Mostly, the others in the room just affirmed that it's better to speak this stuff honestly than to try to fake it. We'll see how it goes. It certainly wasn't the expected reaction.

bourneagainshell said...

First, I'm sorry that I haven't responded to any of the questions or comments lately. Things have been kind of up and down for me overseas.

We have two great boys; one's about to be two and the other is as old as I've been deployed. I miss them very much and can't wait to see them again. When it comes to church and religious questions that my boys may ask in the future, I don't really know right now, but, I know that I'll be able to answer them honestly when the time comes. I would let them make up their own mind about religion, but, my wife, again, is christian and is indifferent about that kind of thing. Honestly, I think learning about the religion first-hand is a great way to decide whether it's for you or not. So, as the children get older, I'll be there to answer them when they have those "What is God?" questions.

I've had good and bad experiences with christianity and am not really biased against it or for it. It's just not for me. Like I've said before I'm Taoist and would prefer to see things for what they really are; in their true nature.

Thinking about how the waitress was treated again makes me shudder. Then, when I think of what I would have said, I wouldn't have been hurt. I would have calmly told them, "That's nice. Glad you feel that way. Have a nice day! Here's your ticket."

I grew up catholic. I don't know if you caught that in the first paragraph of the extestimony. To me it seemed like a "cultish" thing and it sort of intrigued me a little because I had seen some movies about cults and their rituals. Thinking about it that way makes me laugh now. But, my wife still wants me to go to church with her. I'm still waiting for her to tell me not to come because all I do is sit there with my eyes half opened (meditating).

About Taoism again, I'm glad that you mentioned the Te of Piglet, muttmutt1978. When I got more into it, my mother had sent the two companion books, The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet, both as a present that I had said I wanted for my birthday. I was thrilled and read them both in a very fascinated way. Thanks again for the mentioning of that. I'm glad I wasn't the only one who read that.

To answer the question of what kind of spiritual practice(s) I do, I do various kinds. To include, breathing meditation, loving-kindness meditation, sometimes walking meditation, and then, just plain-old relaxing meditation.

And for the last comment, I agree with that. Being open and honest about your feelings and spirituality to the one that means the most has great benefits. For one, you don't feel like you're hiding anything. Two, you both know where you stand and have equal grounds to work things out if need be. I think my wife first got the hint that I wasn't a christian anymore when I told her that I'm not going to church any longer. Afterwards, she gave me a puzzled look and said, "Well, then, I'm going with or without you." After a while she got tired of going by herself and asked if I could join her just to have somebody sit next to her. I agreed because I didn't want her to feel alone. I told her that going to church with her won't change my mind about not being christian. It only makes me realize how happy I am looking in from the outside, in a kind of metaphoric way. Of course I want my kids to know my stand on religion. But, it's too early for me to be talking to them about the differences. I know I'll be well into my own religion when the time comes and I'll be better equipped to handle the questions they ask. I don't have a problem answering them right now, but, they don't understand a word I say unless I talk about food or toys or playing (or mommy).

Anyway, it's been great answering all of your comments. I didn't think I'd get even one. Thanks for the insight and mutual experiences. I look forward to seeing more of your comments on other posts. Be well and take care!

Jim Arvo said...

imaginary sky daddy said " I've noticed that atheists are just as sure that there's no afterlife as christians or any other religions are just as sure there is. It makes no more sense to me than religion."

I hear this type of assertion frequently and, frankly, it makes no sense to me at all. Let me illustrate with a hypothetical situation.

Let's say I have a friend, Bob, who tells me that there are advanced intelligent life forms living on a planet similar to ours, but in another star system in the Andromeda galaxy. Intrigued, I ask Bob how he knows this. Bob produces a Ouija board and asserts that it very clearly spelled out "jdgfgueaskdnvhhalksidhfk" which, to anyone skilled in interpreting readings from the tenth-dimension, unequivocally proves the existence of said beings.

Seeing Bob's method of acquiring his "empirical" data, I promptly dismiss it as bunk. I dismiss it because I have seen many such claims based on silly notions such as Ouija boards, and I have every reason to view them as complete garbage. I also dismiss it because Bob's claim is specific and fantastic. If he had merely claimed that there was a star system with eight planets somewhere else in the universe, I would have simply shrugged and said "maybe", thinking that the claim was at least plausible, despite his source.

Now, in the case of Bob's claim, his assertion is not disproved by pointing to his methodological shortcoming. Indeed, for all we know, there may be such advanced aliens. So, I do not dismiss Bob's claim because I know that it is not true, but rather because there is no credible evidence to support it. Do you see the difference?

Let's now go back to atheists "being sure" there is no afterlife. Do they know there is no afterlife? No, they do not. Do they dismiss claims that there is an afterlife, on the grounds that there is no credible evidence to support that fantastic claim? Yes, you bet they do. And that's precisely the point.

In my view, the "evidence" proffered by religionists in support of an afterlife is not appreciably better than Bob's appeal to the Ouija board. All the available evidence that exists today suggests that our thoughts, feelings, memories, and behaviors are all functions of the brain; when the brain ceases to function, all aspects of a persons mental life also ceases. Hence, there is nothing whatsoever to suggest that a personality can magically continue to exist after death.

Does it make more sense to you now?

Jim Arvo said...

Ooops, I seem to have posted my reply above in the wrong thread. My bad. Sorry about that. (Anyone happen to know where "imaginary sky daddy" made the remark I responded to?)

Dave8 said...

imaginary sky daddy: "I've noticed that atheists are just as sure that there's no afterlife as christians or any other religions are just as sure there is. It makes no more sense to me than religion."

Jim Arvo said...

Thanks, Dave8.

-- Jim

Dave8 said...

No problem Jim, have a great one.


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