Browsing Archives for February 2010

Near Death Experience

February 2nd, 2010

Just a quick note here…

 

This week I am teaching seven hours of Zumba (a Latin style of aerobics –  we salsa and merengue and cha cha cha to Spanish hip hop) a day at a local middle school for a P.E. unit and am arriving home at the end of the day feeling like I have been crushed by an onslaught of Pharaoh’s chariots. I haven’t taught Zumba in a year and am not exactly in tip top condition. Every single muscle is screaming in agony.  I wish I could participate more in the comments, but when one’s broken body is hovering near death, it is difficult find the necessary strength to swallow, much less make an attempt at intelligible written responses.  But I did want to say thanks for the encouraging comments.  I am enjoying them – all of them.  

A few people have been upset in my criticism of PW.  Surely there are those who remember the scandalously funny girl that used to write that blog? Remember her?  All the panty stories? Where did she go?  Please see the below post for my personal working theory.  

Off to (be crushed by) the races,

Rechelle

There are a lot of new folks visiting this blog these days and many of them have NO IDEA who Pioneer Woman is which is absolutely shocking to me.  It’s a bit like someone not knowing who god is.  How is it possible that someone can walk around the blogosphere and never bump into Pioneer Woman?  Do these same people also walk around the planet and not realize that god made it?  Why yes!  As a matter of fact they do! And that would be because the new readers are all a bunch of atheists.  Yes.  A bunch of atheists have been visiting this blog.  And I am delighted to have them here. In fact.  Let me just pause here and put up a sign to let them know that they are truly welcome.  

 

WELCOME ATHEISTS!

 

Now how often do you see something like that in print?

Not nearly often enough I dare say.

Which is unfortunate. Because it has been my complete and utter delight to hear from these people and discover that they are among the kindest, most supportive, most thoughtful people I have ever had the pleasure to receive emails from in my life.  I mean, they had to go to some trouble to find my email address and write out a nice letter of encouragement and they don’t even have Jesus in their hearts!  It truly borders on the miraculous. And I don’t even believe in miracles anymore! 

The support that the on-line community of non-believers has shown to me has been very healing. Wounds that have been oozing ever since I dared speak against christian homeschooling, wounds that have been oozing ever since I wrote a horrifying post about visiting the lodge of Pioneer Woman and then realizing that one of my sons had placed a pox of pestilence upon my head – these wounds and a few others are finally starting to seal over.  In fact, recounting the tale of ‘The Lodge and the Pestilence’ in my freakishly uptight corner of the ‘homeschool-o-sphere’ was such a demonic rebellion against the principalities and powers that rule this corner of the internet that it could only be rivaled by the sudden and spastic announcement that I no longer believe in god.  

WAIT!

Oh Shit!

I AM SO TOTALLY SCREWED!

You see, many of the people who have read this blog over the years are cerebral terrorists.  Cerebral christian homeschooling terrorists.  Their comments have terrorized me.  Their e-mails have terrorized me.  The knowledge that they were going to read what I wrote and leave their passive aggressive comments began to terrorize me only a few short weeks after I started blogging.  They initially found me through my sister’s blog and eventually hundreds and hundreds more came from a link on Pioneer Woman’s blog.  I allowed their vocal presence to hold me hostage and it resulted in a gradual shift in my writing.  I became more and more banal, watering things down and sticking to the utterly inane for my material so that I could receive their stamp of approval and flee their hideous judgement.  

The reason the homeschoolers and their ilk could terrorize me, is ultimately because I thought they were right.  Deep down, in the darkest depths of my brain I knew that if I really loved god, I would never criticize a homeschooling mother who was only protecting her babies from the satanic influences of public education.  If I really loved god, I could not really criticize anyone or anything (except for movie stars and left wing politicians) and if I did, I was just driving another nail driven into the bloody and bruised flesh of Jesus.  

Sadly, I am both a writer and a deeply sarcastic person who loves to craft a finely tuned barb and hurl it at both myself and the occasional not-so innocent bystander who carelessly wanders into my sight-line.  It is very hard to share the love of Jesus by using sarcasm.  I have only seen one possible example and I doubt it’s effectiveness.  I was like Cain and his unwanted pile of garden vegetables.  God required the bloody sacrifice of a life bent in service to his will and I just wanted to make fun of him and his chosen people, the homeschoolers..  And so, like Cain, the rejection of my offering made me want to commit murder.  So I tried to kill myself.  

Not my actual self, but my inner self.  The things I could do well – write a funny song about goofballs who believe in creation science, tell a funny story about the lochness monster proving a young earth theory, poke fun at pioneer woman for selling out to the religious right  - all these things were bad in my former faith.  Unless I could make my jokes about creation science point someone to Jesus, it was meaningless.  As a result, I spent most of my adult life feeling completely worthless.  I loved to write about anything except Jesus and his death on the cross.  The reason I could never write about my faith, even though I knew I was supposed to, was because I didn’t want it to be true.  Which is also why I could hardly talk to my kids about god.  Oh, I could use god as an occasional threat (even if I don’t see you  - god does) but I could never tell them about god.  I was terrified of sealing their minds shut.  I was scared to death of making them hate people who believed something different than they did.  I didn’t want my kids to be christians, not real christians at least.  Please god no, don’t let them be real christians.  Let them be that kind of christian who can drink beer and say cuss words.  Let them be that kind of christians who can drive over the speed limit and have sex before marriage.  So we found a liberal church that focused on service and fellowship with very little visible doctrine and I settled in, got uber involved and tried to ignore the niggling doubt that I was killing my chance to be the person I could be.  

Then just a few months ago, I received a list of beliefs that I had to promise to follow in order to continue serving as an elder in my church.  I knew I couldn’t promise to follow any of the beliefs on that list anymore, because I didn’t believe in any of the things on that list anymore.  I was tired of pretending and I knew this was my big chance.  Like Carolyn Jessop, escaping her polygamous family in Colorado City with her eight babies in tow – I had to get out while the getting was good.

I know that some religious people do not suffer from their faith they way that I did.  There are people who are able to shove their religious beliefs aside and live their lives free of a god that watches their every movement.  There are people who go to church, listen to the sermon, shove a ten in the collection plate and leave.  A god is not hitching a ride on their back when they exit the building. 

But I was not one of those people.  I believed that god loved me, judged me, followed me , inhabited me, and was watching and listening to me 24/7.  I was drugged with Jesus. There was a cloudy film over my eyes.  I was paralyzed by the armour of god.  The unwieldy uniform kept me from fully expressing my talents and my abilities – especially the ones that could not be shot off like a flare gun for god.  I was in a cage.  A cage built out of the thin gilt pages of the bible, and I completely lacked the strength to rip them away.  

Shortly before Xmas, while wandering around a bookstore, my eyes fell upon a book.  It was called The History of God by Karen Armstrong.  I furtively picked it up and looked it over.  It seemed very interesting and I put it with the growing stack of books I had chosen for Xmas presents.  I continued walking around the bookstore and every-time I passed a copy of Pioneer Woman’s cookbook, I picked up a nearby larger cookbook by Martha Stewart, Rachel Ray or Paula Dean and laid it on top of Pioneer Woman’s making sure it was completely covered.  Sometimes I moved a Pioneer Woman cookbook over to the science section or the political section of books knowing that people who can read above a third grade level are far less likely to be tempted to take PW’s book home.  Then I walked quickly away feeling a surge of giddy happiness for having possibly saved one lucky soul from the tyranny of the christian homeschoolers.

As I continued to wander around the bookstore, I came across another book. It was called The Woman Who Named God by Charlotte Gordon.  I added it to my stack and when I got home I began to furiously read through both of these books as well as a massive tome published by National Geographic on the history of the middle ages called The Medevial World .  In Armstrong’s book, I discovered how religions grow out of the religions that preceed them.  One god mutates into another god throughout history according to cultural collisions, the needs of the people and the fanatical leadership.  In Gordon’s book I got a more in depth look at the story of Sarah, Hagar and good old Father Abraham who it turns out – was a supreme asshole.  Here are a few of his gross misdeeds…

1.  Lied to Pharaoh about his wife, called her his sister to save his own neck and so Sarah was placed in Pharoah’s harem.

2.  Raped a slave to have a child because his wife Sarah was barren.  (There is no way that Hagar would have had any choice in this matter).

3.  Had two wives (at the same time)  one of which was a slave.

4.  Owned slaves.

5.  Kicked his slave wife and his son out of his camp because his wife Sarah demanded it

6.  Forced every male in his tribe to cut off the end of their penises (with a stone knife and NO anesthesia) because ‘god’ told him to.

7.  Took his second son Isaac, up a mountain fully intending to kill him because again – god told him to.  

8.  Lied a second time about his wife, Sarah being his sister and AGAIN she was placed in a harem.

9.  Was a mercenary soldier and willingly attacked and killed other tribes for money.

10.  Whether or not you believe in a literal Abraham in your version of christianity – there is no way you can escape the severe and sinister delusion of god from which this character suffered.  He may be the first schizophrenic in recorded history.  I had read the stories of Abraham many times in my life and had long questioned the sacrifice scene, but Charlotte’s book allowed me to look at these stories with fresh eyes, and this time, I couldn’t rationalize away the horror, nor see how any of it had any intrinsic value at all.  

The National Geographic history of the middle ages painted a vivid picture of a christian theocracy in action.  Over one million men, women and children were burned under the inquisition.  Most of them illiterate and killed to meet the local quota.  Or Jewish converts who were under suspicion for simply converting to save their skins.  (They could not win for losing could they?)   Or supremely brilliant scientists and doctors and thinkers who were discovering that the natural world operated in direct conflict with what the bible described.  As a christian, it is impossible to make sense of this era.  Where the hell was god?  The god who stayed the hand of Abraham as he brought the knife down to kill Isaac.  The god who struck down Ananias and Saphira for merely skimming off the collection plate?  Why was this god not causing the hands, feet and testicles to drop off of any priest who set afire a human being?  Why was this god not causing a cathedral to crush the grand inquisitor during the annual prayer breakfast?  How about hit a few vile popes with a lightning bolt god?       god?          god?!?

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These three books were enough to knock the last crumbling vestiges of my shaky faith to the four corners.  I finally and irrevocably cast out the pretend demon god that controlled my mind.  I am discovering life without the surveillance cameras that were implanted in my brain at a very young age.  For in him, I NO LONGER live and move and have my being.  I AM FREE!  

My brain belongs to me! 

For the first time in my life;  my heart, mind, thoughts, acts, vision, passion, strength, weakness, virtue, failure, limits and talent all belong to me.  

TO ME!  

It is all mine!  

MINE, MINE, MINE, MINE, MINE, MINE!  

And for this I would like to thank all the christian homeschoolers.

Without them I don’t know if I ever would have loathed my faith enough to look for the escape hatch, nor recognized it’s crippling effect upon my mind. 

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Emboldened by all the wonderful e-mails and at the request of a co-worker because she is dying to know what people will say, I am opening up comments again.

Breathe deep

Exhale

Breathe deep

Exhale