The world is more wonderful with all its various shades of gray

Sent in by G

Up until a few years ago, I was heavily involved in “the church.”

In college, I got involved with a very small storefront church that focused primarily on college age people. It was there that I was exposed to the Charismatic “gifts” of the spirit and such. It was also where my life started to get twisted.

I didn’t associate with anyone other than those I went to church with. Even other Christians were not to be associated with as everyone was going to hell but us. And when we DID get to know people outside the church, it was strictly for the purpose of getting them to become believers and then to attend our church. We weren’t interested in getting to actually know anyone for the sake of developing real friendships, but only as “trophies.”

As time went on, we actually began to see how messed up we were and realized that we needed to be more “in the world” if we were going to have any impact for “The Kingdom.” So we began to read much more widely and broadened our outlook. We were reading stuff by Reconstructionists and Dominionists (David Chilton, Gary North, Rushdoony). They wrote about how the United States should be governed by Old Testament law (stone unruly children, abolish public education, democracy is heresy). And we ate it up. It was like a whole new world for us after being so focused on ourselves for so long. And it portrayed Christianity as the ultimate solution for the worlds issues. Over the course of time, however, things started changing.

You don’t participate in such a group without eventually noticing that things aren’t going the way they should. People’s lives were heavily controlled, not through direct manipulation but rather by more subtle means of hints and intimidation. Basically, if the pastor didn’t approve of something, it was a problem. Eventually, I left the group when I couldn’t take it anymore. This was the hardest thing I ever did as I basically left all my friends behind. You see, no one ever left this church on good terms. If you left, you were shunned. Consequently, I was basically on my own, no friends to fall back on.

Up until that moment, I hadn’t missed a church service on seven years. The first Sunday after leaving the church I stayed in bed… and it felt FAN-FRIGGIN-TASTIC!!!

Though I had left that abusive church, I still considered myself a believer and eventually began to visit other larger churches that were large enough to allow me a level of anonymity I hadn’t experienced in the previous church. I eventually started regularly attending a PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) church and made a diligent effort to get a real foundation under me and try to determine how much of what I had been taught was legit and what was crap. As a result, I eventually came to embrace Calvinism and I also became a deacon in the church I ultimately joined.

But even then, I was also struggling with the issue of my being a closeted homosexual and trying to deal with it in the context of the Christian outlook. I tried an ex-gay support group (which weirded me out), and I also tried a sex-addicts group for men. Nothing seemed to work.

I eventually relocated to another state for a job opportunity and decided to not bother going back to church as it wasn’t helping anything. I kept trying to tell myself that I was just needed to try harder “abiding in Christ” but I just wasn’t able to relate.

I also came to accept myself as I am and come out of the closet to my friends and deal with life as it was, rather than how I was told it should be. I also began to seriously investigate the claims of Christianity and also to read books I had always been afraid to touch (regarding philosophy and arguments against the existence of the supernatural). When I started to actually examine what I believed for so long, it didn’t stand up to the scrutiny of well-thought arguments and legitimate questions. The first book I purchased was FREETHINKERS and it set me on the road to more books and serious examination of the claims of religion.

I would be lying if I said it was easy. It was like cutting off my own hand or leg.

But for the first time in my life I can honestly state that I am more content now than I have ever been in my life. I’m no longer worrying about pleasing some invisible mind-reader. I no longer worry about trying to find God’s “will for my life” but live the life I choose and take responsibility for the decisions I make and make the most of the opportunities that present themselves. I no longer worry that something is happening in my life because God wants to teach me something and I then agonize over what it might mean. When I make friends, I no longer see them as “prizes to be won for the Kingdom.” I actually get to know them for who they are and appreciate them for their individuality.

If you’re a Christian reading this, you won’t understand any of this until you actually make the decision yourself to legitimately and fairly consider the claims of those who’ve rejected supernaturalism. But you most likely won’t do that. If you’re anything like I was, you’ll be too wracked with fear for just seriously examining whether what you were taught as a child is legit or if it’s simply what your parents taught you and leave it at that.

The world is more wonderful with all its various shades of gray than it ever was in stark black and white.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

"I would be lying if I said it was easy. It was like cutting off my own hand or leg."

Yeah, that's exactly how I experienced it.

"those who’ve rejected supernaturalism. "

I never thought of it that way, but it makes a whole lot of sense. That's exactly what we've rejected, the claim that the supernatural can happen.

Anonymous said...

I am always surprised at people who express difficulties in moving away from supernaturalism. I believe them, but it is just not what my experience was. For me, the really relevant question is why I didn't do it years earlier. I had every opportunity to do so, but just didn't really take the time to sort it out.

Anonymous said...

" I am always surprised at people who express difficulties in moving away from supernaturalism. I believe them, but it is just not what my experience was."

I am not surprised. Everybody is different. I wouldn't expect anyone to experience anything in the same way as me. I don't believe even twins process emotions similarly.

That's why religion is so ineffective and damaging, because there is an underlying assumption that we are all the same, should feel the same and behave the same. Not so!

whateverlolawants said...

Thanks for sharing your story, G. Yay for rationally evaluating beliefs... even when it is really hard.

whateverlolawants said...

Also, your title is beautiful! The world really is more wonderful with all those shades of gray... or perhaps, with all of those glorious colors. :)

Mandy said...

Lorena Wrote: "That's why religion is so ineffective and damaging, because there is an underlying assumption that we are all the same, should feel the same and behave the same. Not so!"

I agree. Christians can't seem to realize that their faith does not work for everyone. They refuse to look at different approaches to dealing with or solving problems.
Back during a very difficult time in my life, I started seeing a christian counselor. I met with him for a very long time. He was a very nice gentleman, however he never could come up with practical solutions to my problems outside of the bible.

I finally gave up on christian counseling, and sought out the help of a "Secular Counselor". That is when I finally was able to get practical solutions to a lot of my problems.

billybee said...

Great Post!!! I love to hear about people who have an unstopable drive to know the truth. Like most of the folks here at ex-christian, you took a "detour" down the muddy and rutted road of faith, but, eventually you recognized that it was taking you to nowhere. Congratulations! The credit goes to YOU for having the courage (and lots of it) to stand up to the intimidation that was trying to holding you to the wrong course of direction. We are proof that truth can conqueor the wickedness of superstition.

Church Boi said...

You my friend were part of a cult not church.

Anonymous said...

All churches are "cults".

xrayman said...

Great article G.

I remember right where I was sitting when I had that "Holy Shit relgion and God are all made up!!!!" moment. I was right where I am sitting now in my breakroom at work. I did a little truth seeking on my laptop and I stumbled on a couple good articles refuting religion. What a glorious moment it was. It was a little hard at first realizing that I was truly on my own in this universe and praying was nothing more than talking to myself, but almost two years removed from God belief, there is now a wonderful sense of freedom.

By the way G, you never did profess whether or not you still believe in a God.

Burt said...

I am a christian. When I make friends with people, I do not see them as prizes to be won for the Kingdom of God. I see them as people with their individual personality. I do let them know that I am a christian and tell them about my faith. However, I am not getting to know them in order to preach.

The crux of the matter about christ is that we all have to decide whether he was a real person and was what he proclaimed to be. On that matter, I have decided that he is true to his words. You of course can decide otherwise, but let it be based on the facts about him rather than the experience that you had from other christians.

Can't Spell Christ Without Shit said...

Burt Said:
"The crux of the matter about christ is that we all have to decide whether he was a real person and was what he proclaimed to be. On that matter, I have decided that he is true to his words."

Well Burt, I have decided that he is not, because based on his actions here today's world in the year 2007, what the bible says does not line up with God's actions.

Bert Said: "You of course can decide otherwise, but let it be based on the facts about him rather than the experience that you had from other christians"

Bert, do you even read what is posted on this site. I don't know how many times I have read where christians like you want to blame our bad experiences on other christians. Stop covering up the fact that your faith does not work for others.

When are people like you going to realize that people like myself made the decision to leave your faith based on the the fact that it did not work. It was not because of the experience that we had with other christians, it's based on the fact that your God failed to reveal himself in a personal way, and he failed to reveal his plan to several of us.

Stop making excuses for God not doing his job by revealing himself in a "Real Way" in today's modern world. Stop providing nothing but worthless lip service for God. God needs to get off of his lazy ass and start answering people.

For someone who is supposed to be so perfect, it seems Satan has the upper hand on God, and it seems that Satan knows how to communicate more effectively according to you christians who keep on saying how Satan has so much control over the world today. If you ask me, God is getting his ass kicked really good by Satan.

The fact is "Christianity is a bad joke". It is only real to people like you Bert, because you have convinced yourself that it is real.

Christianity is real only in the minds of christians like yourself.

AtheistToothFairy said...

Burt wrote:
The crux of the matter about christ is that we all have to decide whether he was a real person and was what he proclaimed to be. On that matter, I have decided that he is true to his words

Burt,

And by what means did Burt decide this christ was 'true to his words'?

Did you have a sit-down chat with christ?
Did you see him in a vision perhaps?
Did he write you a new bible and have it Fed-X'd to your home?
Did he perform some great miracle that can't be explained away?

One thing is for sure Burt. He promised to come back a very long time ago and here we all are, still waiting for him to arrive.
Perhaps his god chariot had a flat tire on the way?

If you mean 'true to his words', as to mean that the bible says he said certain things that might seem to have some wisdom to them, then I could point you to many other historical non-god characters who were also quite wise to.

You really have to have one heck of a warped imagination to believe in all the things the bible is claiming as true.


Again, I ask you what words was he true to that were enough to convince you that he was the REAL-DEAL?


ATF (who is quite amazed that in 2007 one can still believe those childish bible stories as being from fact)

Can't Spell Christ Without Shit said...

ATF Said: "Perhaps his god chariot had a flat tire on the way?"

I am sad to report that he got arrested for drinking and driving. It seems that Jesus had too much fermented wine and a few too many "Lord's Suppers".

I am a Naive Christian said...

I have not had any of God's blessings come to pass in my own life, however I'm not trusting God for what he has not done.

I am trusting God for the things that he is going to do, even though he hasn't done anything worth mentioning. I'm simply trusting God and believing him simply by "Faith", and maybe if I have enough faith he will do these things for me.

Even though I have no proof of what the bible says is true, I base it simply on faith, because the bible is so popular with my own personal christian background and it is so popular with so many other people who live in my country, then it must be right and it must all be true.

Even if God doesn't return in the next 10 Zillion years and the Earth's Sun explodes and kills every living thing here on Earth, I still believe Jesus will be back, he just may not have anything left to come back for once the Earth's sun goes Super Nova and kills every living thing.

However, I still believe him, because christians like me are taught to believe even if we are wrong.

AtheistToothFairy said...

I am a Naive Christian wrote:
I am trusting God for the things that he is going to do, even though he hasn't done anything worth mentioning

Hi there Naive',

I was thinking of handing jesus a schedule to follow, seeing as how he can't seem to get his butt in gear on his own.

Surely he has to arrive before our sun becomes a red-giant and swallows the earth up; sort of like Jonah being swallowed by a big fish.

It also would be nice for him to arrive before the continents merge themselves together again....Oops, did I say something that goes against xtian thinking there?

Hey, and if he arrives fairly soon, then I can get wings to fly to work with, instead of depending on a human built car and being stuck in traffic.

So, I'm looking for ideas here on what sort of schedule WE should make up to hand this tardy xtian jesus?

Ideas anyone????


ATF (who wonders if jesus will have have detention in his god-schooling, for being so tardy on his return)

AtheistToothFairy said...

Can't Spell Christ Without Shit wrote:
ATF had Said: "Perhaps his god chariot had a flat tire on the way?"

I am sad to report that he got arrested for drinking and driving. It seems that Jesus had too much fermented wine and a few too many "Lord's Suppers".

--
Hi CSCWS,

I've heard it's a bit hard to tell how much wine those sacred chalices can hold, so he's probably innocent of not knowing how much he really drank, especially if the devil kept on pouring when jesus had his backed turned.

So what penalty do you suppose there is for driving drunk in outer space these days?
Do you think jesus will cop-a-plea?
Well, I would suggest that jesus gets a [spiritual] lawyer, but as many old jokes suggest, they are probably all down in god's hell and unavailable for consultation.

Gosh darn, I'd be happy to go get jesus out of space jail myself, but I'm a firm believer that one can't get through that darn firmament in the sky that daddy-god installed long ago.

Not to worry though jesus, I'm sure some atheist judge will take pity on your plight, just as you have had so much pity on us.


ATF (who wonders if jesus cell mate, Bubba, is a xtain or atheist)

Can't Spell Christ Without Shit said...

Actually Jesus' chariot was intercepted in space by the Vulcan authorities.

"ATF (who wonders if jesus cell mate, Bubba, is a xtain or atheist)"

Actually Bubba is a Klingon.

Unfortunately Bubba killed Jesus when he tried to convert Bubba over to christianity, however Bubba used the blood of Jesus to make some blood wine.

Now Bubba is sanctified and holy, because of Jesus' blood being the ingredient in the blood wine.

Now Klingons can go to heaven too.

eel_shepherd said...

Burt wrote:
"...we all have to decide whether he was a real person and was what he proclaimed to be. On that matter, I have decided that he is..." [etc. some personal attribute]

And for those attributes to be in effect, that person had to overcome the first hurdle, which was to exist at all. So, presumably, the Jesus-existing part doesn't represent an obstacle to your beliefs. What factor(s) finally tipped the scales for you, in deciding that there ever was any such person as Jesus of Nazareth? Nobody outside the pages of the "scriptures" seems to have noticed/identified such a person. And if you're going to count the characters in the bible, you must bear in mind that that is the equivalent of Batman vouching for the existence of Robin. (analogy shamelessly stolen from Jim Arvo)

David said...

Why is there something rather than nothing? I don't mean Big Bang stuff, I mean actual something rather than nothing why is there space? Why is there time? There has to be something incontingent.
If there is a possible world in which God necessarily exists, then God necessarily exists in all worlds- not a proof but means that it is not UNREASONABLE to believe in God. Read some Plantinga. Read some Barth. You can't go straight from fundamentalist Christianity to fundementalist atheism, can you? That's not really fair to either side. See what the middle is like. Really analyse the arguments through the arguments of philosophers, not people like Dawkins who "makes me ashamed to make me an atheist" (a quote by a famous atheist philosopher).
When you start to read, you'll discover that it's really not silly supernatural rubbish, but that, whatever side you take, there is actually a reasonable debate raging.
What might interest you is a book called the "Philosophy of Religion" by C. Stephen Evans. Then pick an atheist summary and compare the two.
But if you don't, that's okay- it doesn't mean you're going to hell! Many Christians have opposing views on this, so make sure you have a complete outlook. And never try to read the Bible with a decent theological commentary.

I hope you enjoy your fast-track course to the philosophy of religion!

AtheistToothFairy said...

David wrote:
Why is there something rather than nothing? I don't mean Big Bang stuff, I mean actual something rather than nothing why is there space?

David,

While there is no real answer to your huge question, the following article links should give you some pause.
It's not entirely out of the question for 'something' to come from 'nothing'.

While the ideas in these articles won't really satisfy anyone, I do think we are getting closer and closer to realizing that no god being is really necessary, even for creating our universe from 'nothing'.


http://www.csicop.org/sb/2006-06/reality-check.html

http://www.thekeyboard.org.uk/Where%20universe%20from.htm

http://www.positiveatheism.org/crt/stenger1.htm

http://www.amazon.com/Someone-Help-because-Im-Confused/forum/FxU768J4YX0FMW/Tx29G6F0BARLIEE/1?_encoding=UTF8&asin=1591024811

This is a section from the last link above:

In Vic Stenger's preliminary summary for his (then) forthcoming book, "Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing? The Self-Contained Universe", Stenger makes the following statement:

"A scenario is suggested by which the universe and its laws could have arisen naturally from "nothing." Current cosmology suggests that no laws of physics were violated in bringing the universe into existence. The laws of physics themselves are shown to correspond to what one would expect if the universe appeared from nothing. There is something rather than nothing because something is more stable".


Let me know what you think, okay.

ATF (who thinks it's far easier for matter and energy to come from "nothing", than a super god being)

AtheistToothFairy said...

Can't Spell Christ Without Shit said...
Now Bubba is sanctified and holy, because of Jesus' blood being the ingredient in the blood wine.
Now Klingons can go to heaven too.


Hi there CSCWS,

I always wondered where the blood came from in 'blood wine' and now we all know..haha.

So I guess jesus has no more blood left to share with say, the Romulins?
Not that Romulins are known for partaking of blood wine, but it's always nice to share your jesus blood with anyone you'd want to convert to the way of jesus.

I am wondering however about these Vulcans you mentioned, stopping jesus in space.
They do have pointed ears ya know, and might really be devil look-a-likes pretending to be Vulcans.
It just might be that poor jesus is really in the hands of the devil now.
I sure hope that the devil doesn't get to ummm CROSS with jesus during his stay there.


ATF (who thinks it's harder to find jesus than to 'Find Waldo')

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