I am not a Christian

Sent in by Gregory S

I am not a Christian.

Those words come from my mind (not yet from my lips) after forty-four years of serving Christ and his church with all of my heart. I gave my heart to Jesus when I was eleven, on Father's Day one hot June to honor my dad; I'm now fifty-five.

It is a scary thing, this leaving the faith business. Perhaps some do so in disgust, anger, or despair, but for me, walking away was scary. It would have been much easier, in some respects, if I had been outed and ostracized.

I'm an anime fan (google it), and one of my favorites is Fulmetal Alchemist. The main character is an atheist, as is his brother. In the first few episodes, he exposes a priest who is misleading a young girl into believing that he can bring her boyfriend back from the dead.

After the priest is discredited, the girl asks Ed (the main character), "What am I supposed to do now? How am I supposed to make sense of life?" Ed's answer has brought me a lot of comfort lately.

"You've got legs; stand up and use them to walk into the future."

Harsh?

Yes.

Good?

Also yes.

So, scary, yes. But there is peace, also. I will have to learn how to connect with people in a whole new way, but I'm already grateful for the ability to breathe, to think, question, ponder, and not worry if it's god's will or not.

Thanks for listening.

17 comments:

Ricky said...

That's some mighty good advice in that anime. Congratulations on your deconversion. You know, I'm living in Japan right now, and it was most likely video games and anime that originally got me on this path I'm on now.

Perhaps those video games and anime provided the last reason for giving up Christianity fully, too. Of course, I never believed that good people of other faiths (or of none) would go to Hell, I thought it especially idiotic when I heard that from some other Christians (chiefly on the internet, as I'm happy I grew up in a liberal environment). Sadly, though, by looking at the Bible, it becomes apparent that those crazy Christians are right. I mean, even the first commandment is to love God (maybe I'd put not killing first, myself). Why, that would mean that all of my favorite anime characters!...and the brilliant creators and voice actors, and, well, 99% of Japan would go to Hell, too. All this while I started to realize that many of the Japanese people I started to meet were kinder than a lot of people from back home.

Anime, I salute you!...hehe.

schala25 said...

Gregory - I agree. Leaving the faith is scary. And why not, with that whole threat of Hell thing that is always hanging over your head? Of course, that's not the only reason people are afraid of (there's the whole fear of how family, friends, and society will react and treat you) but it's a biggie.

I think even for those that leave in disgust, anger, or despair, there is often a measure of fear there as well.

You're not alone, and I think in time the fear will abate. Congratulations on taking the first step :)

It's funny, too, how much I've seen Fullmetal Alchemist mentioned around these parts. I'm an anime fan too, but I think I've only seen one episode of that particular show thus far. I might have to check it out further :)

schala25 said...

Gregory - I agree. Leaving the faith is scary. And why not, with that whole threat of Hell thing that is always hanging over your head? Of course, that's not the only reason people are afraid of (there's the whole fear of how family, friends, and society will react and treat you) but it's a biggie.

I think even for those that leave in disgust, anger, or despair, there is often a measure of fear there as well.

You're not alone, and I think in time the fear will abate. Congratulations on taking the first step :)

It's funny, too, how much I've seen Fullmetal Alchemist mentioned around these parts. I'm an anime fan too, but I think I've only seen one episode of that particular show thus far. I might have to check it out further :)

billybee said...

Hey Gregory,

Just take it slow. Years and layer upon layer of conditioning will take a while to unravel.

Congrats on getting this far...there are billions who are not as fortunate us we.

Your doing great!!!!

WhateverLolaWants said...

I'd like to check out Full Metal Alchemist! I've heard good things, and what you wrote makes me like the sound of it even more. Welcome to this website!

I think that as far as connecting with people in a new way, it will come naturally. A lot of us on here have written about being able to appreciate people more after leaving Christianity, since we no longer feel like we should judge them or pity them or evangelize to them. We're all just humans in the same basic boat, and in my experience, it's easier to see that when you're not a Christian.

xrayman said...

Hey Greg,

I was a tepid believer at best, but......I absolutely feared Hell. I mean for the most part I only thought really bad people like Hitler went there, but then real hardcore Christians would say nice guys don't get to Heaven without Christ.

When I first realized there was no God I was often scared by Christians who would post on message boards and say things like......

"Think how you wish, behave as you will, but Hell still waits for you.

I turned my fear into a full blown quest for truth. I read all I could from both sides and two years later, I laugh hysterically at those who suggest Hell awaits me. Hopefully you can inform yourself to the point of not being scared.

You never did say you didn't believe in God. Do you?

Trancelation said...

*throws up the horns*

I LOVE FMA. One of these days I might even finish it (I'm on DVD 11 of the series)! FMA poses a lot of hard questions about human nature and the human mystery, and doesn't provide the easy answers that religion does. Indeed, the central characters in FMA often criticize and point out the flaws in the hopeful (but ultimately deluded) thinking of others, and explore the concequences seeking answers outside of a particular faith (just look at the Ishbalans' way of dealing with "heretics" that use Alchemy), but also reveal the hypocrisy of leaders.

Videogames and anime, especially of the Japanese variety, are a great springboard for questioning authority, especially CHRISTIAN authority. The Japanese have long been wary of our particular brand of "Godly love," and it shows in their pop cultre. Religions like Christianity are always displayed with contempt, and high-ranking clergy are almost always secretly agebtns of the very evil they claim to fight, or mindless tools.

Few things are as annoying as a Christian that is an anime fan.

Anonymous said...

(Note: I originated the post above -- I'm Gregg -- but am using a Google ID to post now.)

xrayman:

No, I don't believe in god. It took me quite a while to stop believing, partly out of fear of retribution, partly from longing to have back the comfort of religion.

I remember well the first time I went through a minor life crisis without praying or asking god for help. I survived, and that built my confidence to be able to go on this new path.

trancelation:

Yes, FMA is a great anime series. You should definitely finish it.

xrayman said...

Hey Greg,

I prayed obsessively despite the fact that I never fell for religion, and I remember my first crisis where I did not pray. My wife had an abnormal mammogram and I was scared shitless but I resisted the urge to pray and believe it or not, without God's help further tests proved to be negative.

I was really weird not praying because it was such an ingrained habit when times were tough.

I don't even think about prayer now. I have an 18 year old who sometimes stays out and worries me sick when he doesn't check in, but still I never pray.

Meranda said...

I ADORE FMA!!!

WHen I saw the first episode of FMA it was like looking at my own church ( if it were a country). Or, I should say, looking at parts of the middle east. I never got the impression that Al was an athiest, maybe because He keeps his business to himself. He's like most athiests.

For me, Its not scary- yet. I already have an idea of life outside of the church--- college. I never go to services and get to explore life as a normal person.

brent said...

Howdy

When I was a child I was an atheist (everyone is born atheist). at about 6 or 7 I said to my grandmother: "I hope you know I don't believe in God". She went into a several hours long sermon about why I should believe in God. She told me fabulous miracle stories about people being saved from tornadoes by the hand of god and that sort of warm and fuzzy rubbish. By the end of her speech I thought "ok well my grandmother wouldn't tell me anything that wasn't absolutely true so I guess I do believe in God". Fast forward to the age of 20 and after my own spiritual quest has already collapsed in total failure, I return to atheism. What I realized was that supressed deep inside was an atheist 7 year old proclaiming: "I hope you know I don't believe in God!" It took years for me to come back to the same belief I had as a little boy. What this means is that I never really believed- I just talked myself into it. What I'm getting at is that in the mind of a believer there's a room full of very loud people yacking so much about god and spirits and morality that it drowns out the one guy in the back of the room with any good scence crying "Bullshit!"

xrayman said...

Hey Brent,

Your story sounds like mine exactly. As a child to me religion just didn't add up, yet like you I talked myself into believing. Way deep down inside an atheist always resided within me.

I use the homosexual analogy for guys like us. Like the gay person who tries to fool himself into living a straight life, only to eventually return to his or her true self. That is what happened with us in regards to religion. I tried really really hard to believe and I think I did at times, but instead of one guy in the back, there were countless internet atheists who brought me back to reality.

Anonymous said...

(Well, since my email credits these posts as "02," I guess I'll stick with that -- after telling you one last time that I'm Gregg. 02's fine with me.)

Brent, xrayman --

You're both right. I believed because I was told to. Never really thought about it for myself till I was around twenty years old.

And -- btw -- I'm also gay. I knew it when I was fourteen, but quickly discovered that being gay was a one-way ticket to hell. So I hid it from myself.

It would so, so easy to hate and spew venom over the "well-meaning" christians (lower case intentional) who ruined my life, but the thing is, you see, I don't think of my life as having been ruined -- just different than it would have been if people had been -- well, reasonable. (The irony there is stupendous.)

Anyway, enough rambling. I appreciate your comments.

Jacstar said...

Hi Gregg (02):
great post!! it is scary to leave, especially after such a long time, out the fear does pass and a feeling of freedom comes, I think. I have found that I am able to relate to people much better now as I am less judgemental and more open and honest, I don't have anything to hide now!!

To ricky:
I'm particularly interested in your post as I lived in Japan for almost 2 years, as a missionary!! I was in Tokyo from Feb 2006 to Oct 2007...
Which part of Japan are you in? I was a missionary with "Jesus Lifehouse Church" have you heard of it?
It was in the last few months of living in Japan that I deconverted...One of the things about christianity I didn't get was that most of Japan would end up in hell due to their unbelief, and they are such nice people!!
Luckly I didn't convert anyone personally.

Cheers,
Jacstar

Meranda said...

For those of you who want to watch, there is an english version of FullMetalAlchemist that you can check out at:
http://www.watch-fma.com/1/episode-01.html

at 11:10 is why I said Al could be an agnostic, but it is strikingly obvious Ed is an athiest, and a LOUD ONE.

Anonymous said...

Meranda:

I just checked out the episode you linked to, and you're right: Al is less certain than Ed.

I like to think of myself as being as certain as Ed, but as open-minded as Al -- does that make any sense?

Anyway, FMA is a great series, and one of the very, very few Japanese anime productions that has survived English translation with such high marks.

Danny Tuason said...

First of all...

congratulations on your deconversion.

Like yourself I am also not a Christian anymore. I no longer believe.

But it wasn't scary for me at all. It was a feeling of relief...I got out of my shackles from religious BS. My only regret was I wish I had done it sooner. I found out from my workplace that I am not the only one who did this. Some of my friends strted young. Not me. So that's my only regret. But there's no reason to cry over spilled milk right now. I am just happy that I am free.

Congratulations again!!!

Danny Tuason

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