My First Time – A Church Camp Flashback and The Quivering Sanctuary

March 4th, 2010

I have received many emails over the past weeks and from what I have read, it seems that a lot of people lose their faith around the age of twelve or thirteen.  I keep wondering why it took me so long.  I never even considered questioning the validity of my faith until I was thirty five years old!  Oh, I struggled with my faith.  I wrestled with my faith.  I often abhorred and loathed my faith in the midst of celebrating and carefully trying to follow my faith.  I detested many of the things that the bible taught especially concerning women, but I never even considered that it was not the truth.

Over time, I did what most Christians I know do.  I re-fashioned my faith to suit my personal version of god.  I decided that the Apostle Paul was a moron and his views on women were neanderthal so I threw him out.  I decided that gay people weren’t hurting anyone and god couldn’t possibly be serious in his condemnation of homosexuality so I tossed that out too. I could not reconcile the story of Abraham’s aborted sacrifice of Isaac so I just tried not to think about it.  I decided that the creation story was a symbol for… for… for uh… for… um…for uh…for people… not having… science yet???  I tried hard to believe in the virgin birth, but everytime I had to teach the nativity story in Sunday school, I felt like the words were burning my lips as they came out of my mouth.

When I taught the junior high age kids, I tried to focus on the ‘literary value’ of knowing the stories in the bible. Just having a basic knowledge of the characters and stories in the bible makes all sorts of other classic literature more understandable. Besides!  Every once in a while, an actual valuable moral lesson would come up in these bible stories and that would lead to some good discussion!  But for the most part, the stories in the bible are designed to teach people about god.  They are supposed to increase faith – faith in hard times, faith under persecution, faith when god requires something difficult (like murdering your own child).  They also teach people about god’s character, god’s attributes and god’s desperate need for constant devotion and attention. The bible stories are generally NOT designed to teach people how to live a decent, moral life based on making sound decisions.

So I was always struggling, struggling, struggling with my faith.

But actually doubting the whole thing was true?

WHAAAAT?

No.

That was not even a remote possibility for me.

Until…

One Sunday…

____________________________________________________________________________________________

I was standing at the back of the church right before worship started and I was helping to prepare the acolytes to go up and light the candles on the altar.

In my former church, the acolytes wear white robes and carry long brass ‘candle lighter thingys’ that are used to reach up and light the candles on the altar.  The typical acolyte is between eight and thirteen years old. The lighting of the candles is supposed to be very somber procession that prepares the congregation for worship, but actually it is a nice, youthful, often cute, moment during the service.  There are always times when the acolyte can’t reach the candles, or the candle won’t light, or one acolyte has to rescue another acolyte because the long brass ‘candle lighter thingy’ goes out.  In general, the procession of the acolytes does nothing to prepare anyone for a somber meeting with god.  Instead, it just makes everyone smile. Which is nice.

As I stood in the back of the church helping the acolytes into their robes and lighting their candles, I suddenly looked up and it was like the sanctuary quivered.  The room seemed to bend in half.  I felt like I was in a Sci-fi film and the space time continuum was about to puke out a caveman or a camel or a brachiosaurus!  Because I had this sudden thought!

This mind-bending idea!

This crazy, bizarre, ABSURD, PREPOSTEROUS NOTION!

THAT THE WORSHIP SERVICE WAS LIKE A PLAY!

It was THEATER!

The whole service was a carefully contrived performance designed to elicit certain emotions from the audience…

I mean the congregation..

I mean the audience...

I mean…?

____________________________________________________________________________________________

I have written, directed and acted in many shows for various events throughout my life. Costuming the alcolytes, handing them their props, and then giving them the stage direction to slowly enter up center stage – it was all so danged theatrical!  It wasn’t really real.  Was it?  For a moment I let myself have this brain busting thought that I was just a stage hand in a live performance of the ‘God Show’.

And then I had a flashback…

A church camp flashback…

___________________________________________________________________________________________

I was standing at the back of the chapel at my old church camp in Ashland Kansas.  The same small chapel where I had sung, and prayed and put on the musty, faded biblical robes and acted out the story of ‘The Good Samaritan’ and ‘Mary and Martha’ and ‘Jesus and Lazarus’.  The same church camp where I recieved my first dry husky kiss from a boy named Ricky who was the tallest kid at camp and years later when I saw him again he was four inches shorter than me. The same camp where kids got baptized in the swimming pool.  The same camp where my sister and I worked as lifeguards all summer after we graduated from highschool and I saved my money to buy an expensive Swatch swimsuit that looked so cool on another girl and made me look like a two by four.  The same camp where I regularly stole tall stacks of the camp cook Trudy’s homemade chocolate chip cookies out of the deep freeze, careful to prevent the screen door from slamming as I snuck back out of the kitchen.  And the same church camp  where once, a few weeks after a particularly heavy duty make out session with my highschool boyfriend, I sat on the toilet in the camp kitchen bathroom (because it was the only bathroom with a lock) praying for my period to start.  (Please god.  PLEASE make my period start!  Please god!  I will never make out again!  I won’t let him touch me!  Just please let the rivers flow.  Let them flow like the NILE god!  Yes!  Like the Nile river that you so craftily turned to blood god!  You are so great god!  You are so AWESOME!  Just please!  Please let my period start! PLEASE!)

My period did eventually start, but not until after I spent a terrified hour at the local drug store trying to figure out a way to shoplift a pregnancy test because I could not summon the courage to take one off the shelf and schlep it to the store clerk where he would clearly see that I was an unmarried teenager!  (I didn’t shoplift the pregnancy test either.  I also didn’t buy it.  I just decided to rely on the power of prayer to start my period and end my pregnancy worries.  And it WORKED!  But I thought about  shoplifting the pregnancy test which according to Jesus is just as BAD!)

Where was I?

Oh yeah!

My first spasm of doubt!

So suddenly, I am back at camp.

I am in the back of the church camp chapel.

And I hear two ministers debating about a song.

One minister said, “I don’t like to use songs that manipulate the kid’s emotions.”

The other minister replied, “But kids are emotional beings.  I think it is okay to sing these songs.”

The first minister returned, “I don’t know… it seems like those songs induce a certain state.”

The second minister answered back, “It is just a song… I don’t see how much harm it can do.”

I was absolutely stunned that these two ministers could have such a pointed debate over music.  What did they mean by manipulating my emotions through a song?  Did that mean that something as innocuous as music could influence my brain, my thoughts, my faith?

I never forgot that conversation.  Twenty years later, as I stood in the back of the sanctuary getting the acolytes ready, I remembered it again.

And I looked around me and noted…

The music

The candles

The costumes

The stained glass windows

The dark stained wood

The shiny people in their Sunday best

The large open bible surrounded by beautiful flowers

It all seemed designed to elicit a certain response.

I leaned against the wall in the back of the church and let myself consider the idea for a few minutes as the alcolytes began their slow march to the front of the sanctuary.

“Is it possible that this church service is a craftily contrived show developed over years and years to keep humankind in a perpetual state of religious devotion?” I asked myself.

“Is this all being done to manipulate me?”  I wondered.

I walked over to my family and slipped into the pew beside my young sons.

I picked up the bulletin to read over the order of the service checking out the selection of hymns and the title of the sermon.

“Nah… it can’t be just a show” I thought, “It has to be real.”

“How could it all be made up?” I asked myself

“Impossible!” I decided.

And then the organ blared out a dramatic chord , the candles flickered on the altar and I flipped my hymnal open and began to sing…

Comments

  • JJ:

    Love your humor – or did that ad just pop up on its own;) HEHEHE…

  • JJ:

    Oh and what was it Shakespear said – about ALL of Life is a play and we are merely actors? Sorry I don’t have the quote down precisely…
    Why would religon ( or atheism ) be any different?

  • JJ:

    my spelling is horrid – sorry!

  • Alex:

    So true. It’s a play. Whenever I happen to be at a church service I think about that especially when, to punctuate having read the “word of god,” they walk around solemnly and proudly carrying the bible open, showing everyone, dramatic organ music grinding away. Surely a custom that began back when the congregation couldn’t even read.

  • I’m not sure if it’s designed to be a show so much as it’s just a long long standing tradition that then elicits a certain response from those of us who grew up surrounded by it. Kind of like Christmas morning… we expect it to smell, look, and sound a certain way. And, usually, we expect to pass those things to our children.

    My worst memory of church? Dribbling some of the grape juice from communion on my acolyte robe…and then getting read the riot act for it. Still makes me cringe thinking about it.

  • JJ – How is atheism a play? What ceremonies do atheists create to manipulate people’s emotions? I get the idea that life is a sort of play on a grand stage – but I don’t see how removing mythology from life adds to the manipulation of the audience.

  • DirtyKSmama - Nikki:

    Hmmm… reminds me of my thoughts during my wedding. The whole thing really didn’t have much to do with me and my husband. It was a traditional show for our families and their friends, with a good party afterwards.

  • I think it’s a show. I think it’s a comfort for those who believe and I do think it’s designed to evoke an emotional response. To manipulate the audience as it were. We’re rejoicing and singing when Father proceeds down the aisle. We’re reflective and somber at and after communion. There is a tradition behind the way mass is run.

    Much like there is a tradition to the way a proper Rocky Horror Picture Show is run.

  • Steph :):

    Kind of hits you like a bag of bricks, doesn’t it? I guess my epiphany (or whatever I’m calling it this week) came around when I was 10 or 12, too. At least, the straw that broke the camel’s back happened I think when I was around then. I remember the day, the moment it happened, the words that were spoken, the emotions I had, the things I thought, just as if they all happened yesterday. That was just the kickoff, though. The main game still had yet to come, and would take a while to play out.

    Btw, you should start reading about the Roman Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, and church history (if you haven’t already) together. All the pomp and circumstance will make a lot more sense once you start to see the earliest origins of giving good show for the dirty, uneducated masses, and the values of giving good show for them in the first place. Hey, even the Romans understood that you can keep the people reasonably drunk and excited if you put on some games and keep the wine flowing.

  • I think church has always been a theatre unto itself. Think about a mideval cathedreal, for example. Everything in the cathedreal, from the carvings around the doors, to the stained glass, was there to tell a story to the illiterate peasants. Even if they couldn’t read, they could tell from those images that if you were ‘good’ (followed the church without question), you would be rewarded in the kingdom of heaven. But the images also told of the hell that awaited those who the church deemed ‘bad’. The ceremony of communion, another piece of theatre, in which those whom the church has deemed ‘worthy’ through baptism, can partake of bread and wine meant to symbolize the flesh and blood of a dead man. It’s all theatre, all meant to reinforce a belief in something that man made up long ago.

    I wonder how many period prayers god has heard over the ages? I’m pretty sure I said a few in my younger days!

  • Nadine:

    I had the “this is a play feeling” the most when I went to one service at a local megachurch (it’s in Johnson County, KS…perhaps you’ve heard of it!).
    They really turn up the entertainment factor there. Certainly, the Catholic church masses I grew up in were also all shows, but the sheer opulence of the megachurch drove me up the wall – to the point where I left the service very, very angry – much to the consternation of my then-boyfriend, who wanted us to find a church together. (It was a six-month long respite in my atheism, which faded quickly.)
    Anyway, back to the service. It was around Christmastime and half of the sermon involved clips from “A Christmas Carol.” It seemed like they were using the clips just to illustrate that they had gigantic screens to display them on. Then it somehow turned to how the pastor had gone to the Jordan River and the water was holy there, blah blah, he had taken some! And you could go look at it after the service!
    So, clearly, it was deeply, *deeply* meaningful. (Yes, that is sarcasm. Sorry to offend everyone!!!)

  • LucyGolden:

    HAHAHAHA! Love the period story! I remember doing that too!

  • Carol:

    RItual is extremely important to human beings. The ritual of sitting around the dinner table, of tucking your wee one into bed with a hug and a kiss, the marriage ceremony , a memorial service,so sure, church is a drama. Human beings like to feel connected to one another is a ritual that is familiar. The question is how do non-believers replace that? Most humans still need that comfort and assurance.

    BTW reading a book about Commies in the 1920s and their advice to wives of unbelievers was the same as the the advice to wives of (religious) unbelievers today. Leave the papers laying around and sooner or later he will read it! Love it – manipulation regardless of the faith.

  • Nadine, I live in JoCo! The megachurches sure are swanky, aren’t they? I’ve often wondered if they spend the same amount of money on charitable work as they do on their 10-acre complexes with bowling alleys, movie theatres, latte bars and such. Mega-churches must be the multi-plexes of the religious world; theatre to the extreme.

  • Martha in Kansas:

    My brother attended seminary and was a minister for his early adulthood. (And is now a non-believer!) I visited him back then and went to a class with him. A class called “Preaching”. One at a time they got up in the chapel pulpit and practiced preaching, coaching each other on how long to pause, when to let their voice rise or fall or even quaver. I sat there watching, fascinated. Theater! When I had thought all along God was talking to them in those long pauses! It also dawned on me that I was learning exactly the same kinds of lessons in my teacher training. (But then we teachers don’t say a higher being is telling us what to say!) I found this eye-opening. And then that evening over supper, he and his then-wife (also a seminarian) were discussing how long one could wait to recycle a good sermon so that the congregation didn’t remember. This visit was one of the more enlightening moments of my life!

  • Carol, I’ve thought about that, too and I think people create their own rituals to provide the comfort and assurance that they need. Whether it’s reading a book with your child every night, or fixing a special dinner for the holidays, we all have customs and traditions that connect us with the people we love.

  • JJ:

    There has been a lot of emotion through the sharing of your beliefs – how much emotion has just been brought up here? There has been drama. Did you add to even the “play” of Christianity – sure. There is a dialogue ( in a sense? ) going on between christians and athiests Now does it need to be termed “fake” to be a “play”? Now we can delve into the subject of reality. What is real/ what is not? Now THERE is a discussion topic! Too mind boggling do discuss on a Sunny Thursday.
    Do churches try to evoke emotion – of course they do – church services have even changed to accommodate the new age of technology to keep the congregation entertained. Are you trying to evoke emotion from others here on your blog? Yes – we all try to engage others by emotion.
    From this story you have shared that this topic of religion – is it real/is it not – has been with you for a long time – I believe it is with the majority of us. Unfortunately, we also have a tendency to want to follow – or be led – by the herd. Is there a herd on the atheist side – is there an audience of athiests wanting to watch the play? There are no ceremonial lighting of candles or stained glass, but are there learning opportunities to open people’s eyes to the truths of athieism? Several people have posted authors, speakers, etc. That’s the stage – it’s just set up differently.

  • brightmom:

    I’m surprised there was disagreement between the ministers. My memories of church camp are that it was designed to harness the sexual energy of teenagers and by whatever means direct it toward religion or at least get us all confused. Prayer time was a chance to hold the hand of the cute guy you had sat down next to. And I haven’t forgotten the camp counselor who got the sudden urge to pray right in the middle of the forest trail so that we all had to trudge respectfully around her. Now I realize she was a narcissist seeking attention. Or – maybe she was praying for her period. At the time we thought – “Ooh – she’s sooo spiritual.”

  • Brian V.:

    Just as I Am

    Ten-year-olds
    a dozen of us lined up
    at the front of the church
    because the world
    just might end today
    and we have all sinned
    Romans 3, verse 23
    our fisted, hounded hearts
    and the preacher
    offering one last chance.
    Streets paved with gold
    stream liquid
    through amber
    stained-glass windows.
    Some of us softly weep
    awful doubt in ourselves
    our Baptist Jesus
    and the preacher walking
    our line and shaking hands
    as if we were grownup
    and big enough to deal
    with being caught
    between heaven and hell
    on a Sunday morning
    and our walking right
    into the arms of it
    idiot-faced
    crying along with the music.

  • My thoughts exactly, Rechelle.
    Another perfect post.

  • K:

    Religion WAS created as a form of controlling the masses. Just because most people cannot allow their minds to go there and contemplate that truth, doesn’t mean it isn’t true. And, so far, it has worked out quite well.

  • jalf:

    @JJ: Not quite. No one is “preaching” atheism, and no one is using artificial remedies like lighting or stained glass or, well, ambience, to manipulate people.

    “are there learning opportunities to open people’s eyes to the truths of athieism”? No. There are opportunities to learn about the world. What you conclude from it is up to you. There are opportunities for learning about the countless evidence we have *against* the Christian God. And yes, there are plenty of people saying, very loudly, “based on this evidence, I don’t think he exists”. But that has very little to do with the organized *show* that Christianity is: where people are given the impression that it is so big, so organized, so old, so ubiquitous, that the sheer thought of it being a falsehood just can’t even be *imagined*.

    No one is doing that for atheists.

  • ann:

    This was how I was taught growing up….it’s just one person’s experience and I hope it’s okay to share it. I was always taught that religion, or belief in God, or faith, was not a matter of emotion, but one of will and we were not supposed to look to our emotions to guide us but instead we were supposed to use our mind and our rational thoughts. I am only telling what I was taught. I get that some athiests think you can’t be smart and rational and believe in God, I really do get that, I am just giving my version of what I learned. Our feelings were meant to be signposts to lead us further into thought… Why am I feeling a certain way, why do I hate my husband today when I loved him yesterday? These are just clues leading us into our thought process, not the reason we should act on something. Only after much thought and analysis should we make a decision about something. I’m Catholic and as a Catholic one thing that does confuse me is that many people think religious people can’t believe in science. And I know someone is busting at the seams to say how Catholics tortured scientists hundreds of years ago, but I live in 2010 and we believe in science. I also don’t understand how people think the world is only a couple of thousand years old. It does make me cringe that people believe this, but whatever floats your boat. Anyway, if anyone wants to look at a good site that discusses religoin, science, philosophy in an intelligent manner and free from some of the strange thoughts that exist in certain religious circles this is a good site – http://www.counterbalance.org. I do not know if this site is run by religious group, I just know that the articles are written by a variety of people, including theologians, scientists and people who seem to want to have good, intelligent conversation. Here is a good quote from Albert Einstein that I got from that site… “Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.”
    By the way, I liked this post much more than some recent others, maybe because it is written free from too much emotion. And I agree what you said about families in your comment to someone in your last post. We don’t choose our families and we aren’t required to stick with them if they are abusive.

  • brightmom:

    “Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.” – Charles Mackay

  • Noelle:

    I really feel like an odd-ball that I never, ever had a religious twinge – no story of when the lightbulb went off. This despite (more likely read ‘because of’) the fact that my dad dropped me and my brother off at the sidewalk in front of the church for Sunday school every Sunday morning and came back later to pick us up….I had a whole childhood of that. Nevertheless, I adored my Dad, and I always knew he was not religious (yes, very perceptive of me) so I guess I felt comfortable with that from the earliest age. I remember a conversation with my dad when I was middle school age, and he shared his view of religion as something that has been used historically as a way to keep the disgruntled peasants in line while ‘the church’ and landowners enjoyed all the riches — you’d have to have some pretty tempting promise of future bliss and riches to keep you from storming the castle and churches and redistributing that wealth. Anyway, yes — I’ve never felt church was more than an elaborate play, utilizing costumes that most of us would be embarrassed to wear otherwise.

  • Christine from Canada:

    Hi Ann,

    I think it’s Evangelicals who are more black and white than Catholics, when it comes to science/evolution. Most Catholics I know believe in God, along with modern science.

    If you haven’t seen it — in Bill Maher’s “Religulous” he interviews Catholic priests and, yes, Catholic astronomers (?) who debunk the Bible’s veracity and posit that it’s really just a bunch of lovely made-up stories.

    I think your position would be considered “moderate” by people like Sam Harris. The term sounds benign, but hardly advances sciene’s cause.

  • Christine from Canada:

    Um….”science’s” with a “c” cause… (!@#*)

  • Beebs:

    Kelley & Nadine, I too live in JoCo and attend one of the megachurches. Just FYI, yes, in December we donated half a million dollars, 100% of which went to the poor in Kansas City in Africa. When the disaster occurred in Haiti, we came up with another half a million a few weeks later. A million dollars in 4 weeks. So. Yeah.
    Every other Saturday morning , hundreds of our church members show up and set out throughout the city doing helpful projects, like cleaning out & converting homes to shelters, etc. We send hundreds of backpacks filled with food home with kids in KC who don’t have anything to eat over the weekend.
    Before I started listening at this church, I thought it was kind of gross and offensive, too, until I opened my mind a little and thought maybe, just maybe, all the money and pageantry was making it a place where people wanted to gather, wanted to participate, wanted to HELP OTHERS. So no, no hairshirts or sackcloth and ashes, just a swanky place to gather and meet and plan ways to do good in the community.
    And maybe, just maybe, copying the example of Jesus, whether or not he was a “messiah” or not, isn’t a half bad way to live?
    Our church lists as its values: “It is our desire to honor God through our work on His behalf. To that end, we will do His work with the qualities we most value: integrity, grace, excellence, relevance, authenticity, passion, humility, faith, inclusivity, commitment, joy and love.”

    (And they have a kick-ass band on Sat & Sun evenings that’s not at all candles, Sunday best, or dark wood. It’s entertainment for sure, so what?)

  • Beebs:

    “…poor in Kansas City in Africa” was supposed to be “…poor in Kansas City AND Africa”, sorry.

  • Joel Wheeler:

    It is, indeed, a grand production, in which the congregation is both actor and audience. Anytime a group circles to hold hands and pray, whoever ‘leads’ the prayer (can prayer be led?) is performing. God doesn’t need to have sound waves strike His eardrums in order to hear; the praying-out-loud is a chance for believers to demonstrate their piety. “Lord, we just come before you today, to thank You for this opportunity to come before you today…” Folks who string the words together and sound better (actors/improvisers) tend to get asked more frequently to ‘lead us in prayer,’ because people enjoy their performances more. Get really good at it and you can be a pastor, with your own tithing flock.

    If you really want a good show, inject a little glossolalia or laying-on of hands.

  • Joel Wheeler:

    “It is our desire to honor God through our work on His behalf. To that end, we will do His work…”

    Just an observation: “God’s work” is always done by people. Every bit of it.

  • Steph :):

    Rechelle, have you ever heard the song “Forgiven” by Alanis Morissette?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xsHuwhm8Qs

    If not, you should take 5 minutes, listen, read the lyrics.

    It was totally something of an anthem/anchor for me in the early-mid 90s when I was going through all this hooey that you are just starting to go through now. For me, Catholic school was the catalyst. For you, it may not be Catholic school, but I bet the words will ring true for you nonetheless.

  • ann:

    Christine,
    You don’t really know me, so I’m not sure what you mean by saying my position doesn’t advance science. I have a son with Type 1 Diabetes and we spend a great deal of time reading about stem cell research and other potential cures, donating to such causes, and as a family we have taken part in various studies to determine if there is anything in our genetic makeup that could possibly lead to helping figure out what causes this strange disease. We certainly hope we are doing what we can to promote science and not stifle it. Our family spends a great deal of time reading about what is currently going on in the scientific field and I am happy to say that my son, who is only nine, says his favorite subject is science and he hopes to become a scientist someday. I encourage him in this all the time. My husband is an engineer and works in the field of construction and spends a good deal of time building “green” buildings that help our environment. I really do believe we are doing many things to advance the cause of science. Also, I truly don’t care how Sam Harris would view me. I am sure he is a lovely human being, or at the very least a human being, it’s just that his view of me means nothing to me.

  • Anonymous:

    I am really curious as to why you have done a 180 on your views of christianity? I am also curious as to what your Husbands views are on all of this..

  • Beebs:

    Joel, If someone were to inspire you to do something, especially if you model your behavior after them… would you ever consider giving them any credit?

  • Jennifer:

    Anon–Really? I think Rechelle’s been fairly clear about her views.

    Personally, I don’t speak for anyone but myself. If you were to ask me about my husband’s opinion on things, I would likely suggest you ask him directly.

  • Nadine:

    Beebs, I think the “so what?” to me would be: why do you need a “swanky” place to facilitate charitable giving? What’s up with all the self-congratulation in your shiny, shiny building? Why do you feel like you have to tell us how much money your church has given?
    Plently of people donate their time and money without ever stepping foot into a warehouse-sized church with double video screens. Plenty of people live modest lives and still find ways to give.
    …so what?

  • Joel Wheeler:

    Beebs: I would absolutely credit them with the inspiration, and then give myself some credit for doing the work, especially if the work had transformed me in a positive way. I’ve had many inspirational folks in my life, why wouldn’t I credit them for the inspiration? The work I do, the choices I make, the actions I take are all my own: to defer credit OR accountability for these would be, in my view, irresponsible and unnecessary; a false humility, as it were.

    Example: a close friend inspired me — through action — to participate in a well-known fundraiser called the California AIDS Lifecycle, which involves riding 545 miles on a bike in seven days. He inspired me, but I raised the money and rode the bike, three years in a row. He will always get credit for inspiring me. But who, realistically, should get the credit for raising that $20K?

    Folks have every right to defer the glory for their actions to God if they wish. I see people doing good for each other, and find this to be a perfectly natural state of affairs.

  • Axelle the french reader:

    Rechelle, I have a question, I would be happy to know your answer : now that you have lost your faith, what do you teach to your children ? I mean, I’m very curious to know how you have explained to your sons your new situation and what were their react, while I suppose, they have been educated in God Faith during so many years ? Because, I guess Faith is most of all in the education you give to your children.
    We don’t believe in God, me and my husband, so we haven’t “teach God” to my children. And when they have questions about that, we say that some peolple believe in it and others no. We’re on the side that we don’t and we try to talk with them about that, taking scientist arguments.
    But I supposed your children have been educated with god and faith and religion. Except if I’m wrong, I would like to know how you do, now, with them ?
    … Precision : It’s not an agressive post ! … It’s really and truly to know ! …And it’s not either insane curiosity. I’m very interested by this point.
    Thank you.

    Axelle – My sons are still a work in progress. They know what I think about things. I am letting them make up their own minds about what they think about things. They have heard ‘god’s side of this story’ – the christian version for fifteen years and now they are being gently exposed to a different side of this story. They are also surrounded by relatives desperate to make sure they don’t believe like their mother. I have no idea how it will all turn out – but I know they are smart, wonderful, good kids – so I think either way they will be okay. But yes – at this point, they have certainly been exposed to enough religion to last them a life time.

  • Beebs, it sounds like your church, and more importantly, the people in it have done some great work, and I’m not trying to take anything from that.

    I won’t go so far as to say that I dislike mega-churches and what they stand for,but in light of the investigations in to Jerry Johnston and his family at First Family Church in JoCo, I am sometimes wary of them. Over the years, we’ve seen not only church leaders like Johnston under investigation, but also the very public downfall of people like Jim and Tammy Bakker. Since I don’t attend any kind of church, I wonder why some people feel more motivated to help by the ‘swank’ if you will.

  • @Carol “Ritual is extremely important to human beings… The question is how do non-believers replace that? Most humans still need that comfort and assurance.”

    Generally speaking, that’s true, but the degree varies widely between individuals. I have a particularly low tolerance for pomp and ceremony, but I still have things that might be called ‘rituals’ – for example, my wife and I take our son to eat dinner at my parents’ house every Thursday. Every Tuesday, we have lunch with my parents, and my brother and his wife, at a particular Mexican restaurant. So yes, to the extent that they need such things, non-believers can replace them.

    @K “Religion WAS created as a form of controlling the masses. Just because most people cannot allow their minds to go there and contemplate that truth, doesn’t mean it isn’t true.”

    Nonsense! (Also, please spare us the high-handed implication that anyone who disagrees is just in denial.) Speaking as someone with an Anthropology minor, anywhere you find people, you find some sort religion – some belief in the Unseen Forces That Govern Our Lives. It seems to be built into the species, much like the need to create art (which you’ll also find anywhere you find people). No two of those beliefs may be alike, and the individual need for religion varies widely, but it’s patently ridiculous to suggest that religion only exists because some ancient manipulator needed a way to keep people in line.

    I never had the sort of (anti-)epiphany that Rechelle describes here – or if I did, I don’t remember it. Church never did anything for me, and when I started really examining its assertions, I decided that they really didn’t make any sense to me – and I mean that in a deeply personal way, not in a ‘religion is illogical and only fools believe’ sort of way. The closest thing I have to an experience of the divine has only happened way out in the middle of nowhere; I might believe differently if I’d ever felt anything like it in a church.

  • JJ:

    jalf – if you are discussing it over and over again, if you are showing the evidence again and again, if you are calling others on what you think is wrong about THEIR beliefs you are in a form”preaching”. A “stage” does not have to be a church, with stain glass, and ritual. Your ambiance is the science, the world. How many thousands of years has the organized, staged production of religion been in development? The stage may not be as grand or as intricate, but I am sure there are many atheists who are willing to take it to that level. Just placing it in a book, on a video, in a seminar, puts the belief on a platform of some sort.

    JJ – Yes – I can see where you are coming from. But the gross majority choose to believe in an invisible deity rather expend the energy to even consider another possibility. So the ‘atheist stage’ is tiny, the sound system is broken, the props are science text books and that just doesn’t compete very well with all the candles, music, robes, flowers coffee and donuts very well.

  • bPer:

    Wow, Beebs, bragging about how much you (collectively) donated to the church – didn’t Jesus tell you expressly not to do that? (Matt 6:1-4). For that matter, he also commanded you not to pray in public (verses 5-6). I doubt he’d approve of ‘swanky’ places to violate these clear instructions.

    βPer

  • Beebs:

    Nadine, I was responding to Kelley, who was wondering if the people at churches like mine. I think a million dollars is a lot of money. I think it’s cool to be a part of that. (Are you going to tell me pride is a sin? OK, I’m KIDDING! I have my tongue firmly in my cheek. I honestly can’t believe I’m being sucked into all this.)

    I wasn’t congratulating myself on our shiny church. I was saying it’s a nice place to be, a nice place to enjoy music, a nice place to hear words that make me think, and the fact that it’s such a nice place just might encourage (shallow, self-congratulatory sorts like me) to participate in service to others. I never said it needed to be that way. Absolutely a lot of people give without belonging to a church and that’s totally wonderful and I don’t care if they ever set foot in a church, jeez!!

    like it there. I never really liked church before. That’s all I’m saying. I want to go there because when I’m there, I feel I am encouraged to think of others, to give, to be tolerant, to love my fellow man.

    They make it really, really easy to help others. Is that so bad? I’ve had good intentions for 40 years of doing good in my community, but rarely got around to it. I’m a loser that way. So here, I show up Sat morning and they’ll give me directions to a facility, hand me a hammer and I’m helping. I show up Thursdays and load backpacks full of food for kids. I’m encouraged to bring food, money & clothing for the poor every time I step into the place. I’m promised that some offerings are going 100% to the poor, so I’m giving more than ever. (I guess I’m bragging, but you don’t know me (from Adam, lol) so what would be my point?)

    I’m just trying to say not all churches are manipulative and punishing. I’m not even 100% sold on all the Jesus stuff and Mary and the virginal birth, hmm, I’m a cynic, too. But I still love going to church and love listening and opening my mind and most of all love that I’m at least trying to put others first once in a while.

  • Christine from Canada:

    Hi Ann,

    You’re right, I don’t know you.

    I don’t care what Sam Harris thinks of me, either. “Moderates” is simply a term he uses to describe people who don’t rock the boat. They are, generally, people who live and let live when it comes to letting there be prayer in public schools, allowing these same schools to teach both evolution and creationism, who are believers but couldn’t quote scripture. They might go to church every Sunday; more likely they go 3X year. I think Catholics and non-Evangelical Protestants (of the Canadian variety) are “moderates”.

    That you are interested in advancing a cure for Type 1 Diabetes is not a surprise: it hits close to home and, like I said, most Catholics are science-friendly. As of 2004, the Catholic church officially accepted biological evolution. The Catholic church is also eco-friendly and believes in global warming (unlike most Evangelicals). So, the Catholic church is actually pretty hip in those areas.

    But science isn’t just about the subjects you hold dear to your heart: it also entails a cure for AIDS, studying in-vitro fertilization, and stem cell research. The Pope is having none of this. This mean little man wields so much power over “moderates” who are afraid to speak up.

    That is how science gets stifled.

    Peace

  • Beebs:

    Dang it, I keep messing up! My first sentence was supposed to end with “…wondering if the people at churches like mine ‘spend the same amount of money on charitable work as they do on their 10-acre complexes…’” Sorry! Lame-o!

    Also meant to thank Kelley for her response. And no, I don’t go to 1st Family ;-)

  • Beebs:

    I’m getting annoying now with too much posting, I know.

    Just wanted to share this with Rechelle & you guys: I just opened my New Yorker mag and saw a cartoon that says, “Perhaps more people would give heed unto the word of the Lord if the Lord had a funny blog.”

  • MichelleG:

    I think you are all missing the point that Jesus HATED the pageantry of religion. He told the religious leaders of that time that they were whitewashed tombs…they looked good on the outside but the inside was full of dead men’s bones. Rechelle, it sounds to me like your particular denomination failed because they were more concerned with appearances and emotion than a true relationship with a living God. I don’t believe in any denomination but I do believe in Jesus Christ. What you need to throw out is the traditions that man has created…not God Himself… and find the TRUE PATH.
    I was raised in a home devoid of any religion. I know the consequences of not believing in God…there is no-one to be responsible to…so whatever feels good…do it…even if it destroys your own children in the process.

  • Hey Rechelle, I can totally relate to what you’re saying. Before my deconversion, I was a “worship leader” at various churches. I received a lot of emotional fulfillment from that job (still miss it), but looking back on it now, I see it for what it was: emotional manipulation. In fact, I think a lot of my relationship with God, and my impression of a relationship and conviction that God was a “real person”, was defined by the act of worship. It’s the medium through which you practice the art of loving God… and if you love Him, there must be a Him to love, right? (Realizing I’d spent nearly thirty years being hopelessly in love with what turns out to have been a fictional character is not an easy thing to come to grips with, that’s for sure. I felt like a schizophrenic who’s just come to terms with the fact that the elaborate and detailed fantasy world in which he’s spent so much time being the hero, was never real.)

    In the church background I come from, we were acutely aware of artificial, “performance-y” sorts of worship. Better to sing off-key and a capella in a heartfelt ballad to Jesus, then to play with an immense band, complete with video accompaniment (filled with nature scenes and people raising their hands to God), but be so distracted by the machinery of worship that I’m no longer singing to God.

    And yet, how can an outsider judge whether a worship leader was giving a “heartfelt” performance or not? In the end, isn’t it just a certain infusion of emotion into the music, a little spontaneity, knowing when and where to shift the dynamics of the song, when to take out or subdue the instruments, when to rise to full-bodied playing and singing? Sure, I really was “singing my heart out to God” when I was playing this stuff, but the real, observable result was… performance. Performance specifically designed to sound like “not a performance,” but guaranteed to manipulate the emotions of the (devoted) congregation. I had been raised up in and had an innate intuition for what “real worship music” sounded and felt like, and that’s what I played. And sure, I was manipulating my own emotions right along with every one else, but that’s what it was: emotional manipulation. If, by the start of the pastor’s message, everyone wasn’t feeling rested, and at peace, and then just-fired-up enough to be ready and eager to listen to what the pastor had to say about Jesus – as well as humbled and ashamed of their dirty, foul human nature, and yearning to come closer to perfection by looking to Jesus’ example – then I hadn’t done my job.

    I never felt closer to God than when I was worshiping. Not even when God would “make his presence” known by all the various amazing and beneficial coincidences we’re conditioned to believe are the direct Hand of Providence, and not the result of statistical probabilities which the human psychological make-up has such a poor innate recognition of (and which is equally biased to completely ignore and forget the unbeneficial and equally “amazing” but coincidental events that come to our lives).

  • [...] (A comment I posted at My Sister’s Farmhouse.) [...]

  • Darlene:

    I went to Catholic schools from K through 12, and I remember with great clarity the smell of the incense and the pattern of sit-stand-kneel and the music welling up from behind us, up in the choir.

    It is a ritual, and a carefully crafted one at that.
    The purpose of ritual is to allow your mind to transend the daily routine, and perhaps carry some of that into regular life.
    Ritual is everywhere, if you choose to see. It is an immersion into the moment. Christmas is that for my family, we still put out Reindeer Chow (forget milk and cookies, the reindeer do most of the work!) and still wait for Santa.
    Movies are a ritual: cold sodas and super buttery popcorn and wonderful previews and then the moment when the lights dim and the movie starts: it is magic! And, funny this, but my stepdad managed a bunch of movie theaters when I was a child, and I saw all the bits and pieces behind the scenes, and that made it even more wonderful.
    Atheists have rituals, people have rituals. My family has a mythology, we have a story-really a series of stories-that define us as people and as a group. We create our rituals, and we enjoy them more for knowing the back stories.
    Another purpose of ritual is to create common bonds, and strengthen ties between individuals in a group. Or family rituals do that, although we also tend to invite everyone we know to share in them :)

  • Beebs:

    bPer: Love ya!

  • Micah – I know exactly what you are talking about. You try to sound totally uncontrived while at the same time you must be even more contrived to avoid even a hint of seeming contrived. And everyone knows when you cross the line from anti contrived contrived to contrived contrived.

    I think we need to invent a new language for this problem. :)

  • Potco:

    Oh, can we call the language the bacon language?

  • Ted Powell:

    Speaking of megachurches, there’s one right next to the I-75, north of Cincinnati, that I’ve driven past several times while visiting relatives. I don’t recall whether anybody in the car actually exclaimed, Jesus! the first time we saw the statue, but that’s who it was.The Wikipedia article about the statue includes a photo (click to enlarge). We did once—on a weekday—exit the interstate and drive in to look at the statue from all angles, but we never met any of the church members. As far as I know they are all fine people, but that statue, rising out of the pond, is awesome.Be sure to scroll down to External links and click on the link to the video of Heywood Banks singing about its resemblance to the butter sculptures one sees at a state fair.

  • bree:

    Jennifer. I am the anon from before. I forgot to put my name up there b4 I clicked submit. I was not trying to be rude, just asking a question that I guess won’t get answered. All I know is that she just turned athiest and I don’t think you just wake up one day and say ” hmm .. I think i will become an anthiest today” I also do not know her husband so how could I ask? Everything else seems to be a pretty open subject.. why not what her husband thinks?

  • Great post, Rechelle! Can’t wait to read the next chapter…

  • Spinny:

    Have you seen Richard Dawkins “The Root of All Evil” documentary?

    Ted Haggard (yes, THAT Ted Haggard) compares one of his church services to a rock concert.

    If you listen closely, they aren’t even really denying it is all theater.

    Here’s a link to part one of the documentary:

    http://richarddawkins.net/articles/107

  • Melinda Gerow:

    FREAKIN” AWESOME Ted!

  • Ann:

    we cal the mega churches here in Maryland Six Flags Over Jesus

    Seems like a perfect fit.

  • Here’s a question I’ve been running around in my mind…since you guys decided to move and get on the Dave Ramsey plan, etc, do you feel that since that is a faith-based program that you are unlikely to follow it now?

  • Jill:

    “But the gross majority choose to believe in an invisible deity rather expend the energy to even consider another possibility.”

    jalf, do you seriously presume to know the minds of the “gross majority?” And that believers in a creator don’t “expend the energy to even consider another possibility?”

    You have absolutely zero idea how much contemplation and struggle the individuals who comprise the “gross majority” go through. It’s easy to respect those who think like you, and tempting to make glittering generalities about those that don’t.

  • Spinny:

    bree: I was not trying to be rude, just asking a question that I guess won’t get answered.

    You should be careful, you are sounding slightly like a martyr. “Oooooh, all I was doing was asking a question and everyone just ignored me.”

    Here’s the post Rechelle wrote about her reasons for deconversion:

    http://mysistersfarmhouse.com/2010/02/biblical-flood-of-christian-homeschoolers-converts-blogger-to-atheism/

  • bree:

    spinny thanks I will read it. yes, I was asking a question I was frustrated. Yes, I am such a martyr. … (rolling my eyes) I’ll be more careful next time.

  • Gah, I’ll have to read through the comments now to see if what I am saying is redundant.

    I got quite an education in design school about medieval churches from a design-only point of view, and funny enough, it was hard not to really think hard about the deplorable things the church would do to the most detitute of people to keep swimming in the riches.

    While poor, uneducated people were dying of starvation, the church would demand their tithe with the threat of hell. The few bits of coin the poor might be lucky enough to have (which would have kept them fed) had to go to the church to build their ornate gilt walls, and hand-carved stone statues, tracery windows, oh, and keep the church officials clothed in the finest of garments.

    The churches banked (literally) on the ignorance of the poor, and guilted the educated upper-class with insane laws of “god” in order to keep the coffers filled to the brim. The richer the family was, the more guilt they had to be instilled with so they would keep funneling money to the churches for redemption. There was a very good financial reason the church kept monarchies in their crosshairs, and installed representatives in their court. Kings and queens were cash cows so they had to keep them deeply religious and ridden with guilt.

    The medieval church also never had “outreach programs” for the uneducated poor. They never taught them how to read latin so they could understand the bible and the services. The most help they provided was to take in orphans now and then so they could brainwash them and add them to their ranks. What starving orphan is going to turn down the promise of a steady meal?

    I can’t help but wonder how many people starved to death or were fleeced in order to construct each church during that time (and even now). Doesn’t sound very kind and loving to me.

    All this information is available in history books, and while it is depressing, it is very intriguing.

  • Jill:

    Heather, you make a great point. Organized religion has done great harm in God’s name. I don’t see it as God’s fault, but man’s. Organized religion and its man made rules has very little in common with spirituality, with the possible exception (in the case of Christianity) of the churches organized by the apostles in the first century.

    What a shame that God is often rejected because of the worldly church and the harm it has brought upon the millions of souls exposed to it, past and present. If God exists, I imagine he’s as appalled as we are.

  • “If God exists, I imagine he’s as appalled as we are.”

    nothing stops him from doing something about it then. omnipotence and all, you know.

    anyway, it’s a bit of a stereotype that atheists don’t believe because they’re disappointed in church. often it’s more so that being made miserable for some reason or another by community results in asking questions that people just don’t ask themselves (or don’t answer with the same blunt intellectual rigor) in that way when they’re still actively woven into the fabric of community, which is the first step into atheism.

  • LucyGolden:

    @MichelleG – “I know the consequences of not believing in God…there is no-one to be responsible to…so whatever feels good…do it…”

    You don’t need to believe in a god. One still can be to be moral & responsible without. One still has to answer to themselves, laws of the land & society. It’s called morality.

    (Rechelle – I bet you just love reading all this debate!)

  • Jill:

    I didn’t say atheists don’t believe because they’re disappointed in the church, so please don’t accuse me of stereotyping. Are you saying that atheists are people who reject God? Wouldn’t that imply they believe in God but don’t want to have anything to do with him? I wasn’t thinking of atheists at all. Strikes me as a knee jerk response, jadehawk.

    I’m not God so I don’t presume to know why he allows us free will, but I wouldn’t want it otherwise.

    And once again there’s that condescending presumption that keeps cropping up that people who are NOT atheists are somehow intellectually lazy.

  • “Are you saying that atheists are people who reject God?”

    hardly; however, that’s the language usually used when talking about non-christians for not believing. even here on this blog, a few people have said things like that Rechelle shouldn’t be angry at god because of what people do. it’s a straw-man, and your post reminded me of that so I figured I’ll explain. how is an explanation of something a “knee-jerk response”?

    and if you weren’t talking about atheists or others who don’t believe in god, I’d be curious to know whom you are talking about. after all, that leaves only Christians, and they don’t generally reject god. they worship him.

  • Kimberly:

    This post reminded me of the documentary “Jesus Camp”. That movie makes me sick to my stomach in what they do to those kids.

  • “And once again there’s that condescending presumption that keeps cropping up that people who are NOT atheists are somehow intellectually lazy.”

    um. faith is evidence-free trust that something is right because you want it to be, supported at best by post-hoc rationalizations and feelings. not the most intellectually honest position i’ve ever seen. do you have something to dispute that god-belief is faith driven rather than evidence driven? if not, I cannot think any other way about it.

  • I’ve been thinking about that Shakespeare quote off and on with increasing frequency for about a year now. It’s certainly one of his most quoted lines, and it sounds right perdy if you don’t think about it too much. However, I’ve begun to think that Shakespeare was full of shit–at least as far as that one line goes. I’m not sure, though. Perhaps it must be understood in light of its context, and for the life of me I cannot remember which of his plays it is from. Is it meant just as it sounds standing alone, or is there some irony there? Is the veracity of the statement put into question based upon which character says it? I think these are things I need to know, praise Google (which I will use only to find the work which I need to read in full). As far as the statement goes standing on its own, it may sound quite eloquent and seem very profound, but I think it’s absolute crap. That’s just my opinion, though. I wouldn’t want to incur the wrath of any bardolatrists. Wait, what was this post about?

  • That Google is a quick little sucker!

    Jaques:
    All the world’s a stage,
    And all the men and women merely players;
    They have their exits and their entrances,
    And one man in his time plays many parts,
    His acts being seven ages.

    As You Like It Act 2, scene 7, 139–143

    I’m so glad to see that this is one of Shakespeare’s plays which I have not yet read. I thought my brain was starting to go. Although maybe it is starting to go and I did read this play and just do not remember it! The full quote makes more sense to me. I can agree with the exits and entrances and parts and acts and all that. However, if it is a play, then there is a writer and director, and I imagine some people think of God this way. If the men and women are merely players, then they have no choice but to say the lines and follow the stage directions they are given. That is the part I cannot agree with, but I’ll reserve judgment on Old Bill until after I’ve read and considered the entire play. And then maybe someday I’ll get back to writing on my own blog instead of leaving lengthy comments on yours. Maybe.

  • Lori:

    Are atheists also against muslims, hindus, buddhists and jews?? Or are they just anti-christian? Last time I checked, they all believed in a higher power… Or is it just Jesus that really bugs you?

    And here is another thought… If christians use “props” to push their beliefs and “manipulate” the masses does that mean Brad Pitt is your drug of choice to reach the world for a non-belief system? ‘Cause he would be a good one. After all, he is an actor and so darn good looking, he must have something intelligent to say… Well, he could be good looking if he got rid of that scary little rat on his chinny-chin-chin…

  • “Are atheists also against muslims, hindus, buddhists and jews?? Or are they just anti-christian?”

    none of the above. we don’t believe in and don’t think much of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, etc. but we’re not against people. That’s absurd and a smear. Stop confusing the person with their beliefs because they are two different things.

  • Jill:

    Your knee jerk response was evident in your presumption that I was talking about atheists, as well as lumping me in with anyone who would tell Rechelle or anyone else, for that matter, that they shouldn’t be angry at God because of what PEOPLE do. They can get angry if they want, I do.

    I can understand, however, why you thought that, if you think there are only two camps: atheists and Christians.

    I was referring to those that have been victimized or disillusioned by MAN’s organized religions and reject God along with the institution. Some people reject organized religion and lead very spiritual lives, others struggle with the damage done by the institutions and the negative perception of God they have as a result. But they are not atheists, yet – they may come to that conclusion or not – it’s each person’s choice, but often not as black and white as you presume.

    There was no affront in my post, jadehawk, though you seemed to respond that way.

  • Darlene:

    @ Lori, who asked:
    “Are atheists also against muslims, hindus, buddhists and jews?? Or are they just anti-christian? Last time I checked, they all believed in a higher power… Or is it just Jesus that really bugs you?”
    Speaking only for myself, I am against any and all religions, and gods, including the 2000+ gods you didn’t mention. (Buddhism does not involve god, and is often practiced and thought of as a philosophy rather then a religion.)
    I don’t understand blind faith. I don’t understand why someone would want to think they were always being watched, that just sounds creepy to me. Being that the majority of people around me are Christian, I tend to focus my attention on that religion. Your bible is frightening, and so filled with violence, incest, slavery and murder that I don’t think it is suitable for my young teen to read yet.
    I present arguements, in the true sense of the word. If you tell me there is force out there, I ask for evidence: let’s measure it, verify it, test it. Everything real can fit within those parameters. So far, every question we had that we answered with a god (How does the sun rise and set? What causes lightening? Why does a mother love her child?) have all be answered with science. Some took longer than others, but the key is that when new evidence arose, science changed around it. Religion ignores reality to maintain it’s illusion.
    Brad Pitt is wonderful to look at, yes. And what is more important, he actually does good, because he wants to. Not because he is being held hostage by threats of eternal damnation, but because he can. The religious figureheads I see are a contemptable lot, cheating and stealing and lying and abusing their power and hiding behind religion to do so.
    From the tax-free religious encroachment into politics to the seri abuse of children to honor killings to beating and murdering children accused of witchcraft to starving a child for not saying amen: the face of religion is an ugly one, and whatever mask it wears, I have nothing but contempt and disgust for it.
    The individual belief I find bizarre and strange, and though I might love a person I have no obligation to respect ever half baked idea a person has. Religion is but one of the many irrational ideas and superstitions that people seem to cling to. I don’t get it.
    My drug of choice is the human brain when taught basic logic and science and reasoning skills. I am instilling those gifts in my child, and I wish I could teach others to turn a critical eye on their own beliefs and double check them constantly, test them against new ideas and see if they still stand.
    As the tee shirt says, science flys us to the moon, religion flys us into skyscrapers…

  • Potco:

    Jill, that is not always the case by any means. I had 2 decoversion experiences, one when I was in the 7th grade, a lot of what was being taught to me didn’t make sense like prayer, and I happen to need something to read so I read the bible, cover to cover, and I just felt that it was an immoral crock. I didn’t like what it said, I didn’t like the way people approach religion and I didn’t like the things that religion caused all over the world. This is when I left Christianity. I did investigate other religions a little but for the most part I was just apathetic to religion. However, an series of events of the last few years have shaken me from my malaise, and I began to intensely research religions and the very idea of a god. While it is possible that a god exists, a personal god who interacts with the world around us seems to be impossible. Religion, while it makes some people happy, makes most people feel guilty, and a lot of people sacrifice their ability to think for themselves, they listen to what the man in the pew says and then go and think that for themselves. I don’t like this effect.
    I have no problem with religious people, I like many of them, but when some makes an argument for an immoral act or policy because the bible says so, I get angry. When a person rejects science because a story written by a group of bronze age desert nomands claimed the earth was created in 7 days, I get mad. When Christian’s feel the need to insert their religious beliefs into government, I get mad. When a Christian’s feels it is necessary to convert me but at the same time I can’t say one word for my belief without offending them, I get mad. When someone says I am a good person but I am going to hell, and can’t see the hypocrisy in this, I get mad. I have a right to, these type of things harm our society and our country.
    However, these things have nothing to do with god. As far as god goes present evidence that is testable, falsifiable, and repeatable, then I will believe. I may not worship because I see little evidence in a good god, but I will believe.

  • Potco:

    Sorry, I just realized I pulled a bad argument, I do know and like many christian people, but that doesn’t prove anything. I can’t prove that I like and care about religious people, so you will have to take my word. I never try to deconvert any of my friends, and usually will try and avoid discussing religion.

  • efrique:

    What an exquisite and moving story, like smiling through tears.

  • Jill:

    Potco, I really liked your post and was about to say “well put” but your second post pre-empted me! Not a bad argument at all!

    And I agree with just about everything you said.

  • Potco:

    Thanks, the part about liking religious people just felt like a politician saying, “I have gay friends”.

  • Aw church camp where my friend got pregnant on the back pew of chapel…while chapel was in session. Don’t ask :)

  • Kimberly:

    What does that say about someone’s understanding about theology when they lump Buddism in together with the god-ish religions? FAIL

    That’s the upsetting thing about trying to have a debate with unadmittedly blind religimentalists. The REFUSE to go and actually educate themselves before starting an argument. It’s worse than with my 4 year old simply saying “because” when I ask why to something. At least with her I can finally get an intelligent answer out after a few tries. XD

  • “I can understand, however, why you thought that, if you think there are only two camps: atheists and Christians.

    how you got that silly idea from what I wrote I don’t know. FYI, “god” is an idea almost exclusive to the Abrahamic tradition: the animists and pagans have spirits and gods/goddesses; the buddhists are either atheists or polytheists, depending on the sect; and so on. therefore, claims that someone “rejects god” means they’re no longer of the Abrahamic religions, but could be a whole host of others. point being that the only people who don’t “reject god” in the sense of abandoning or not having a belief are christians (or, I suppose, muslims and jews; same god, different flavor), or deists of christian tradition, which is just the extreme of the christian spectrum. those of the other traditions disbelieve in “god” the same way atheists do.

    “I was referring to those that have been victimized or disillusioned by MAN’s organized religions and reject God along with the institution. Some people reject organized religion and lead very spiritual lives, others struggle with the damage done by the institutions and the negative perception of God they have as a result.”

    right. that paragraph is not very clear, in light of your earlier claim not to be talking about atheists.
    are you not contrasting those who have given up on organizations (plural, I note) AND your god (thus making them atheists) with those who have only rejected organizations, without rejecting their beliefs; which would make them whatever they were before, just on the fuzzy end of the scale. and since you’re talking about “rejecting god”, that would make them members of the abrahamic religions, in the context of this conversation christian?

  • Lori Eaker:

    @ Darlene- “The religious figureheads I see are a contemptable lot, cheating and stealing and lying and abusing their power and hiding behind religion to do so.From the tax-free religious encroachment into politics to the seri abuse of children to honor killings to beating and murdering children accused of witchcraft to starving a child for not saying amen: the face of religion is an ugly one, and whatever mask it wears, I have nothing but contempt and disgust for it.”

    Darlene, I completely agree with everything except the politics thing. Not sure what you mean by it. The other things you mentioned are beyond words reprehensible, immoral and evil. I do not, would not, COULD not ever condone them. The face of religion certainly can be an ugly and hateful one. But surely you don’t think all people that believe in a higher power do such things? That is a really sweeping judgment. And most pastors (the good ones anyways) want people to check out the Bible for themselves but people are at times lazy and want to be spoon fed. And that is a good way to follow a wrong path no matter what it is. And my motivation for “doing good” is not for a ticket to my mansion in the sky, it is because I want to. I want to be an encouragement to others, serve them and be kind. If one reads the gospels, that is what Jesus did. He came against the religious people of the day and their hypocrisy. He crossed racial barriers and spoke to women as a peer, not as a lesser human being. That is what I strive to emulate b/c I WANT TO.

    @jadehawk-”Stop confusing the person with their beliefs because they are two different things.” That is always so hard to do. My beliefs are such a huge part of who I am. Why would I want to separate it? Do you view most things thru an athiestic (is that a word?) lens? And I am not trying to be sarcastic. I just don’t understand how people separate it.

    And I really did want to know about the other religions vs. atheism. I was thinking about this blog earlier and realized none of others were brought up that I had seen. I know rechelle is speaking of christianity and that is why everyone is bashing it so I wanted to ask to clear it up for me.

    As a christian, I think what makes me so sad about ALL of the discussions over the past few days are the hurting people. The ones that have seen “church” done the wrong way. And personally, I have a beef with the mega churches. Why the heck do we “need” bigger buildings with latte bars, expensive sound equipment, fancy chairs, blah, blah, blah when people are STARVING all over the world. The town I live in was really hit hard the past few years with shutdowns, lay-offs, etc and some of the churches were STILL asking for money. My husband and I both were greatly troubled by it. Why not put that money back into the community to pay light bills, grocery bills, anything but building yet another wing on the church! Come on!!! Needless to say, for that and other reasons, we have moved on. Not all churches, not all christians are “as seen on TV”. I can see why some the people only see the inconsistencies. But in defense of the christians I know, they try to do whats right, their motives are pure, the work hard, pay their taxes, help their neighbors, etc. Please don’t judge us all but the whack jobs out there. Please, go to the website of Eternal Perspectives Ministry for a good look at true christianity. Randy Alcorn is one of the best writers of our times and has such a balanced, non-fanatical way of looking at things… Just my thoughts…

  • Misty:

    Rechelle thank you for blogging about your life. As an atheist mom, living in a very rural and religious town I appreciate feeling like I’m not the only one out there.

    On another note, a comment by Jill got me thinking:
    How can an omnipotent god truly give you free will? An all knowing being would know as they created you what choices you were going to make in your life. They would know if you were going to be the next mass serial killer or devout follower. Yet, that same god still creates you. Creates a soul KNOWING they will or won’t fail. And then, when that person lives the way that god created them, they’re punished for it. That is not free will.

  • That is always so hard to do. My beliefs are such a huge part of who I am. Why would I want to separate it? Do you view most things thru an athiestic (is that a word?) lens? And I am not trying to be sarcastic. I just don’t understand how people separate it.

    let’s put it this way. if you believed that going out at night would kill you, and you lived your entire life according to that principle, i.e. it would be “a huge part of who you are”, it would still be sensible of me to try to convince you otherwise and show you that nighttime can’t harm you. I can say that it is not a sensible belief, that there’s no evidence for it, and that you’re just scared and not really looking at the evidence and that the belief is doing you unnecessary harm.

    but I cannot drag you kicking and screaming outside when it’s night. I cannot FORCE you to change your mind, because I actually am tolerant and respect people’s rights to their belief. But I don’t feel any obligation to respect their belief itself, so I will tell you what I think about it. That’s the difference.

    And incidentally, all intellectually honest atheists would change their minds if evidence for the existence of some god were to be presented. they treat their atheism as a falsifiable position that can, given the right conditions, be disproven. I can separate myself from it just fine, if the evidence was there. The same holds for all other positions and opinions I hold. This is why I say that I don’t believe in anything. Basing large chunks of my life on a mere idea seems dangerous, if only because once you become invested in one, it becomes hard to be honest with oneself about whether the idea makes any sense.

  • Darlene:

    @ Lori, who said:
    “Darlene, I completely agree with everything except the politics thing. Not sure what you mean by it. The other things you mentioned are beyond words reprehensible, immoral and evil. I do not, would not, COULD not ever condone them. The face of religion certainly can be an ugly and hateful one. But surely you don’t think all people that believe in a higher power do such things? That is a really sweeping judgment.”
    Politics: churches are tax exempt, to the collective tune of millions and millions of dollars every year. A condition of being tax exempt is that the organization cannot be involved in politics. As soon as a preacher stands on an alter and tells you who to vote for he or she is violating that contract and stealing money from the tax base. And that, and more egregious violations, happen all the time.
    First, belief in a higher power can and does encourage people to do terrible things. Actually passing a law to kill homosexuals, with the support and encouragement of religious leaders from the US. Believing that training up a child requires physical abuse. Thinking that a child is possessed. All of this requires belief in the supernatural. You, personally, may not believe those things, but your religion does. And the moderately religious give support to the extremists. You give them validation, simply by sharing the same basic belief system.
    Based on biblical teachings, you should beat your children; you should kill them if they are disrespectful, you should take slaves and murder children and rape the women of your enemies as rightful plunder. That is what your “Good” Book says to do.
    Oh, I know what you’re going to say: no one actually takes those bits seriously! To which I reply: so which bits are true, and how do you know the difference? How can anyone actually know what parts to follow and what parts not to? If the bible is the Word of God, then who are you to question what God has said?
    You give legitimacy to the Bible, and so you and all other adult believers are culpable in any crimes committed in its name.
    You validate their beliefs. You are responsible for their deeds.

  • Jill:

    jadehawk, I got my “silly idea” from your own words:

    “if you weren’t talking about atheists or others who don’t believe in god, I’d be curious to know whom you are talking about. after all, that leaves only Christians…

    My post was in response to Heather’s well-written post about Christian church institutions of the past. So your “FYI, “god” is an idea almost exclusive to the Abrahamic tradition: the animists and pagans have spirits and gods/goddesses; the buddhists are either atheists or polytheists, depending on the sect;” etc. is not only condescending in tone but irrelevant to the observation I was making.

    And since you’re speaking for atheists when you wrote “we don’t believe in and don’t think much of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, etc.” could you explain why atheists don’t think much of Buddhism? I’m with Kimberly on that… :)

  • Jill:

    @ Darlene: “You validate their beliefs. You are responsible for their deeds.”

    Oh, come on. You can’t be serious.

  • jadehawk, I got my “silly idea” from your own words”

    except that the quoted section doesn’t say there’s only christians and atheists. it talks about atheists, others who don’t believe in god (i.e. all other religions not derived from the bible), and christians. which is why your false portrayal of that statement prompted me to explain the group you skipped, since you obviously missed it.

    could you explain why atheists don’t think much of Buddhism? I’m with Kimberly on that… :)

    first, I don’t speak for all atheists; I speak for a very specific subset, i.e. the skeptical atheist. technically speaking, as I explained, some Buddhists are atheists. however, we the skeptical atheists don’t believe in any magic at all. Second, buddhism is as much about magic as christianity or any other theist religion. the mind/body dualism for example, exemplified by belief in samsara is counterfactual, and therefore as wrong as the supernatural dogma of christianity.

  • “Oh, come on. You can’t be serious.”

    every time a politician, talking-head, religious leader, etc. says something like “this is a christian nation” or “80% of Americans are christian” to support doing or saying something cruel and vile, or unconstitutional, he’s using your adherence to christianity as political leverage.

  • Darlene:

    @ Jill

    Oh, I am very serious. Moderate religion creates the respect in a belief in the supernatural, in the unprovable. Moderate religion demands accommodations and respect despite having no evidence.

    The only difference between the moderates and the extremists is that the extremists actually take their religion seriously and absolutely.

    The men who flew planes into buildings simply had more faith then you do. They were True Believers ™. That is what faith does. That is what faith is. You can pretend that the people you know are different, but you create the illusion that belief in an imaginary friend isn’t a mental illness, that religion should be respected, that it shouldn’t be questioned.
    And that gives the True Believers ™ the cover to blow up, shoot up, beat up, and otherwise abuse whomever their book says they can.

    If you heard a voice tell you to kill your child, would you? If you have faith, you should. That is what the Christian god demands, after all. Moderates like to pretend that the fringe groups are distorting the holy texts, but in reality they are following those texts and the moderates are the ones distorting them, pretending that the bad stuff about stoning people and enslaving them somehow doesn’t count anymore.
    If the book is just stories, then it would be taught in a lit class. No one basises a life and a religion on literature. The book is something more, and once you claim part of it is real, then it is all real.
    If part of the bible is false, or not to be taken literally, then why trust any of it? If it is the Word, then the whole of it is.
    You offer legitimatcy and validation. You enable.

  • Alex:

    Just wanted to pipe up from the peanut gallery and second that atheism and Buddhism are quite compatible, thank you very much. That is pretty much the whole point of Buddhism.

    I can’t pretend to know even the first 50000 things about Hinduism, but I know a few Hindus that are atheist/agnostic, and who, when chanting to their gods and goddesses, believe they are actually trying to awaken or strengthen certain (human) aspects of themselves. The stories of the gods and goddesses are a creation story (or 200) but are also explanations of the nature of people.

  • Priss:

    I had one experience with Buddhism as an atheist and was repulsed by it. I went to the local Buddhist vihara and found that the monk there invoked goddesses non-stop. This monk (female) was a pleasant person but thanking the devi and pleading with the devi and bowing to statues doesn’t seem any more rational than any other religion.

  • brad:

    NICE !!!

  • Jill:

    jadehawk, once again, what you said was:

    “and if you weren’t talking about atheists or others who don’t believe in god, I’d be curious to know whom you are talking about. after all, that leaves only Christians, and they don’t generally reject god. they worship him.”

    AND yet you still maintain

    “except that the quoted section doesn’t say there’s only christians and atheists. it talks about atheists, others who don’t believe in god (i.e. all other religions not derived from the bible), and christians. which is why your false portrayal of that statement prompted me to explain the group you skipped, since you obviously missed it. ”

    I think you’re getting very confused…and enjoy arguing. It’s really funny to me how you insist on telling me what I was trying to say in my original post. How you carry on!

    Darlene, please give us a quote from the New Testament where the Christian God requires us to kill our children, if we hear a voice instructing us to do so, or to stone someone. Oh wait, you won’t find one. You, like so many, refer to the old testament stories which were written centuries prior to Christ, and dismiss out of hand the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament regarding the then-current view of a legalistic, punitive god.

    It’s REALLY magical thinking to believe that I as an individual am responsible for the actions of anyone outside myself. Or do you believe only atheists are self-determining? I’m not part of the True Believers With a Trademark and have no influence over their actions any more than you do. Human nature is such that people are going to behave in vile ways if it is inherent within them, and will attach themselves to a group that supports their tendencies. If the idea of God were removed from the equation, another cause would be created.

    Blame the belief in God for all of man’s ills if you want – it’s convenient, I know.

    And Alex is correct, atheism and Buddhism ARE quite compatible.

  • Lori Eaker:

    Well said, Jill, well said.

  • clara:

    Eh, I don;t know…..I’ve been reading this whole saga and it seems to me that what you fell out with was a conservative, simplistic, introverted version of Chistianity that’s just….odd to a lot of people who don’t live in the US Mid West.
    I’m a Catholic from small town rural Australia and what you’ve described going through would be beyond bizarre in my community. Nobody cares whether we go to church or not (most people don’t regularly), nobody in my church questions what I believe, and every Catholic I know is completely comfortable with science and religion. I actually can’t imagine them questioning it – they’d think doing so would make you one of those weird evangelical bible bashing types who make us all shudder. They’re the odd ones where I live.
    It’s interesting to read about your journey, good luck – and why on earth is it anybody else’s business what you believe? And where do people get off with these patriarchal busybody bullshit questions about what your husband thinks??? Do they think you need a man’s permission to use your own brain?

  • Christine from Canada:

    Jadehawk: Your posts are spot-on! I have only just recently clicked on to your blog, and will be a regular reader.

    You’re right: there are all sorts of atheists out there, too. Roger Ebert has an interesting piece about non-believers who, strangely, follow New Age stuff. I’m probably preaching to the choir (forgive the pun!) as you may have come across it already: http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2009/12/new_agers_and_creationists_sho.html

    Me, I’m an atheist who is totally skeptical of everything supernatural. There are no such things as spirits, guardian angels, lucky charms, astrology…

    For Clara: See my previous posts further up on this thread, re: Catholicism. This is a blog about how Rechelle is faring with her newfound life. She is inviting people to comment. It would, otherwise, be nobody’s business. People are asking how her family (which includes her husband) is doing in all of this. Patriarchal? Look no further than the Catholic church, where women are not allowed to hold top jobs, where men have all the say in what women do with birth control, with their wombs.

  • Darlene:

    @Jill
    Are you kidding me?
    So no Christian churches had readings from the OT?
    So where in the NT does it address homosexuals?
    Or is that just something else everyone but you gets wrong?
    You call the whole thing The Bible ™. There are museums celerating the creation story as told in that bible. No, no special pleading here. The OT is as much to be obeyed and followed and learned from as the NT.
    If not, rip your bible in two and throw out the OT. Every pastor and priest should do the same.
    But you don’t. Christians are fond of using the OT against anything they don’t like (LGBT, witches) but they pretend that all the other stuff doesn’t count.
    Bull poop.
    If the whole of the book is the word of God, then all of it counts. And as long as any chrisitians claim hold up the complete bible, you are giving legitimacy to those who especially enjoy the nastier bits.
    If not, then remove those books from your Holy Book ™.
    As long as most churches keep them in, as long as YOUR church keeps it in, then you are responsible.
    Cognitive dissonance is a beautiful thing, it allows you to pretend that you aren’t responsible for the things those in your religion does in your god’s name.
    You don’t get to pick and choose what is literal and what isn’t.
    You are the shield they hide behind.

  • Lee:

    It will all work itself out in the end of time. Deep down everyone knows the truth. So why argue about it?

  • Lee:

    “that at the name of Jesus EVERY knee shall bow, of those in heaven and on earth and those under the earth and every tongue confess that JESUS CHRIST IS LORD! to the glory of God the father.” Phil 2:10-11

  • Anon:

    Quote from above “Plently of people donate their time and money without ever stepping foot into a warehouse-sized church with double video screens. Plenty of people live modest lives and still find ways to give.
    …so what?” ~~~ AGREE!

    Like a few others, I am disappointed in quite a few churches these days. These churches are any size but they only have one things on their minds, themselves. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t good churches or good folks who believe in Christ yet aren’t a member of a religious group who think of others, there are plenty. You just have to search more to find them. Then again there are probably plenty of other good folks who don’t believe in Christ or who prescribe to a different view who are also thoughtful of others. But I have often heard complaints of selfish churches and selfish Christians way more than the selfish atheists or whatever it is they choose to believe or not believe in. Why is that? Why is it any group gets singled out? When selfish folks come from all walks of faith or lack of in life.

    As for the theatrical bit, great post! Life is a theater, all of it!

  • @Lee – Surely the fact that we *do* argue about it at least suggests the possibility that deep down, many of us don’t know “the truth”?

    Honestly, I’d find your assertion offensive, except that it’s so utterly far from my own experience that you couldn’t even find it on the same map. As a result, “Deep down everyone knows the truth” is just laughable.

  • gina:

    But, like it or not, ALL the world is a stage.

    Not just church. Everybody in the world is playing a role…

    The best thing about it is you get to choose the role you play :)

    And you’ve changed roles, and that is uncomfortable for some.

    But it is fine. And no one should be calling you doubting your sanity.

    As long as the role you choose is comfortable to you – all shall be well…

  • Nadine:

    I think the point Kelley and I were both trying to make is that the opulence of those churches (and the theatre they come with) are pretty ridiculous, when it comes down to it. I’m glad it works for you, Beebs, and I’m glad it’s a good way for you to give time and money and to have a community like that. It’s great that they can reach so many people.
    But the question is whether the 10 acres are necessary. Are the expensive sound systems and electronics necessary? How much are they spending on the sheer upkeep of a campus like that, as compared to their charitable work?
    Isn’t it kind of sad that people need to be entertained and drawn in that much in order to find a way to help their fellow man? Maybe it’s something wrong with us as a larger society, but to me, it’s always going to seem a little tacky and just a little disingenuous.

  • Potco:

    Jill, I will give a slightly more direct response, Jesus never explicitly says murder babies he does say, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” John 14:21. Notice he said commandments, not ten commandents, and there are several hundred of these. One of these commandments is “For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.” Leviticus 20:9. So if your child talks back to you, as all will do, you must kill him or her. Just a few verses away you have, “And if a man shall lie with a woman having her sickness, and shall uncover her nakedness; he hath discovered her fountain, and she hath uncovered the fountain of her blood: and both of them shall be cut off from among their people.” Leviticus 20:18. So if a man and woman have sex while she is menstruating they must be exiled. This sounds pretty petty to me, more to do with some men finding it disgusting rather than sinful or amoral.
    I could go on and on, most people in modern society would find a commandment that they should be severely punished for, not a one that is necessarily immoral.

    One more, while Jesus does not explicitly support murdering children, he does support slavery explicitly. See Luke 12:47-48 or 1 Timothy 6:1-2. Both condone slavery.

    If you want more examples the skeptics annotated bible is a good resource for looking at the bible more rationally. http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/index.htm

    Also, most Buddists are also atheists, so there is no conflict there. However, it does not fit with a skeptical lifestyle because it contains a belief about reincarnation that, again, I see no evidence for.

  • J:

    Anon: “These churches are any size but they only have one things on their minds, themselves.”

    um correct me if I’m wrong..but isn’t that what an athiest does.. whatever THEY want. Not being accountable or held to ANYONE or ANYTHING? Not caring how/what their family, friends etc. feel, think, say or do.. only themselves! Not that they need to agree with eachother… but consider eachother. If they don’t like something, they can just pretend it doesn’t exist because it doesn’t fit with what they want for THEMSELVES.

  • Jill – here’s a few examples of Jesus advocating violence, neglect and abuse towards children…

    Jesus is criticized by the Pharisees for not washing his hands before eating. He defends himself by attacking them for not killing disobedient children according to the commandment: “He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.” Matthew 15:4-7

    Abandon your wife and children for Jesus and he’ll give your a big reward. Jesus asks that his followers abandon their children to follow him. To leave your child is abuse, it’s called neglect, pure and simple. Matthew 19:29

    Visit this link to read more… http://www.evilbible.com/what_would_jesus_do.htm

  • Priss:

    Jill, Jesus did speak clearly that he wasn’t abolishing the Law and the Prophets. Wouldn’t that mean that the OT still holds? Matthew 5:17-19 seem to be saying that. I’ve read how people get around it, but that just seems to be the same sort of cherry picking we claim that Christians do. Don’t like what this verse seems to be saying? Imagine it says something different and just talk about the loving Jesus.

  • Nadine:

    J, you’re kidding, right?
    um correct me if I’m wrong..but isn’t that what an athiest does.. whatever THEY want. Not being accountable or held to ANYONE or ANYTHING? Not caring how/what their family, friends etc. feel, think, say or do.. only themselves! Not that they need to agree with eachother… but consider eachother. If they don’t like something, they can just pretend it doesn’t exist because it doesn’t fit with what they want for THEMSELVES.

    So, you’re saying that if you found out tomorrow that whatever your beliefs are (I don’t know so I won’t assume) were false, you’d immediately go out, maybe rob a few stores to get that iPod you’ve been wanting, go tell your mom or best friend or sister that you no longer care about her, and continue on your anarchist way? I guess it must be hard to understand, but atheists are actually people too, and you might even know some! If you do, you might notice that they’re not just doing whatever is in their own best interest. They’re probably um, I don’t know, contributing to society and whatnots. Raising children who will do the same. Giving to charity. Spending time with their family and friends because relationships are important to them.
    Surely there are some selfish atheists out there, just as there are selfish people who claim to follow Jesus or the big Juju under the sea. Atheism does not automatically turn you into a 18-month-old child who doesn’t recognize that there’s a world beyond herself.

  • J, I’ll happily correct you.

    “but isn’t that what an athiest does.. whatever THEY want. Not being accountable or held to ANYONE or ANYTHING?”

    Come now. I don’t see any evidence for the existence of an all powerful, all knowing creator who actively interacts with the world. That doesn’t mean that I’m not accountable; if I run naked through the streets, people will let me know of their displeasure in no uncertain terms. If I decide to rob or cheat someone, I am accountable to them, and to society at large; even if I don’t get caught, I have to live my life as someone who robs and cheats. Actions have consequences.

    And that’s just social accountability. I’m also accountable to my own conscience.

    “Not caring how/what their family, friends etc. feel, think, say or do.. only themselves!”

    If I understand what you’re saying here, then you’ve confused atheism with sociopathy. Human beings are tribal. As a general rule, they care what their family, friends, and acquaintance feel and think. Taking God out of the equation does not change that.

    “Not that they need to agree with eachother… but consider eachother. If they don’t like something, they can just pretend it doesn’t exist because it doesn’t fit with what they want for THEMSELVES.”

    Again, you seem to be overlooking the possibility that someone could honestly believe that there is no God. I’m not angry at God, or in rebellion against God, or ignoring God because I’m so in love with my sins. I just don’t see any reason to believe that such a being exists, and as a result I don’t believe. We can argue all day about the details, but that’s what it comes down to.

    To put that another way, we aren’t pretending.

    And morality is perfectly possible without God and/or the Bible. “Do unto others” works just fine.

  • J:

    Alot of this country does what they want for themselves-Christian or not. If your not ready/don’t want a child- abort it… if you don’t have it.. steal it. if you don’t want a husband/ wife leave them. If you don’t like the way you were made – have plastic surgery. Do whatever you want- just so that you are happy. Everything has to be Politicly correct – because we might offend someone on accident.. We fullfill ourselves….. Athiests/Christians alike.

  • Another Lee:

    @J
    My ten yo son, self-proclaimed atheist, collected canned goods instead of gifts at his birthday party last month to give to the local food bank.

    Pretty selfish, huh?

  • J:

    Proud of him!

  • J, if you’re suggesting that the problem is not so much religion or the lack of religion, but simply people being people, then I agree completely.

    On the other hand, I don’t see what political correctness has to do with any of that.

  • J:

    It has more to do with it than you think. isn’t that why we have a problem with black/white/Asian etc? people, homeschoolers, religion?

  • What Michael Mock said. I’m accountable not only to society for my words and actions, but I’m also accountable to myself, my husband and my son. If I were to make the conscious decision to say, steal or cheat, that affects not only me, but everyone around me.

    I don’t understand when people say, ‘I’m not in control of my life, God is’. What does that mean? Does that mean that if they make a decision that ultimately turns out to be wrong for them, that it’s a test from god? Does it mean that they can do whatever they like and if there are consequences because of it, that it’s god’s doing? If you make the choice to steal, and you get caught, the consequence is there no matter what. God was not testing them, they just made a moronic decision.

  • Mindy:

    “If they don’t like something, they can just pretend it doesn’t exist because it doesn’t fit with what they want for THEMSELVES.”

    I’m not pretending. It doesn’t exist. You’re pretending it does exist because of what you want for YOURSELF. See how easily that gets turned around and used against you? Bad argument. Silliness.

    If you take it out of context, you could be talking about the nastier bits in the bible. People pretending it doesn’t exist because it doesn’t fit what they want for themselves. And really, how many teenagers would be left after that killing disrespectful children law?

  • J:

    above commenter…you don’t know what I belive…

  • Mindy:

    I didn’t say what “it” was.

  • J:

    I’m Just saying we are all out for ourselves..

  • J:

    Selfishness is at the very core of the human condition, true – altruism is about as selfish as it gets.

    On the other hand, our selfishness is directed at the perservation of self, family, friends, and society (usually in that order). We are herd, tribal creatures, who thrive on positive attention and who are pretty much hardwired to help out those for whom we identify. We are social beings.

    So. Our selfishness exists for the purpose of advancing the tribal group to which we belong – and research shows that that’s very true. Heck, what’s happening to Rechelle is part of that; her former church is preserving itself by moving her from their ‘ingroup’ to their ‘outgroup’. This is why we get phrases like ‘think of the children’ and ‘you should go see a counsellor’ – obviously something must be wrong with her to want to break from the group, right?

    *shrugs*

    We go a long way toward tossing out the bad kind of selfish, as a society, but that certainly has nothing to do with ‘God’. Anyone who cannot recognize the importance of the phrase ‘women and children first’ deserves to be marginalized… and they definitely are.

  • @ J: “It has more to do with it than you think. isn’t that why we have a problem with black/white/Asian etc? people, homeschoolers, religion?”

    I’m sorry, you’ve lost me; I don’t understand what you’re trying to say. Or possibly I don’t understand what you mean when you say “political correctness.”

    “I’m Just saying we are all out for ourselves.”

    There is some truth to this, but it’s not an entirely bad thing. I’m little use to anyone else if I don’t take care of myself. And people are, as I’ve said before, tribal. In general, we function better in societies. We have not just the capacity, but a very strong tendency to feel loyalty to other individuals… and to groups. So there are some natural counterbalances to the selfishness you observe.

  • Ah, I see that Grimm beat me to it. ::waves:: Nicely said.

  • Steph :):

    MichelleG (who posted March 4th, 2010 at 8:55 pm), it sounds like the issues you think you have with atheists actual stem from the issues you have with your childhood home. I’m only going from what you wrote. Your statements seemed like you were trying to reconcile one thing with another thing that didn’t match.

    As a non-believer, I’m responsible to myself, and to my family, and to my community. What can I tell you? What else do I need to do? I volunteer a lot, I am an activist for many causes (breast cancer, is a big one), I donate food to pantries and clothes to the Salvation Army (!). I even try to rescue animals, and I’ve reduced my carbon footprint by like 30%. I also don’t believe all of [insert religious affiliation here] are bad just because they’re believers, and my best friend in the world that I’ve known since I was like 4 1/2 is a Baptist.

    I guess maybe I need to speak to the Grand Atheist Poo-bah and maybe turn in my membership card and right to do the secret handshake, because clearly I’ve missed the point of being a non-believer. :o

  • Jadehawk:

    oh, FFS, Jill, it’s right there. let me quote it for you:

    “and if you weren’t talking about atheists or others who don’t believe in god, I’d be curious to know whom you are talking about. after all, that leaves only Christians, and they don’t generally reject god. they worship him.”

    see? right there. in the section you constantly quote. non-atheists who don’t believe in god. is your reading comprehension that bad, or do you just not want to understand what I’m saying?

    —–
    Jadehawk: Your posts are spot-on! I have only just recently clicked on to your blog, and will be a regular reader.

    thanks! I’m glad at least some people are getting what I’m saying, and getting something out of it :-)
    —–

    “It will all work itself out in the end of time. Deep down everyone knows the truth. So why argue about it?”

    quoted just to prove my point from earlier.

    —–

    “um correct me if I’m wrong..but isn’t that what an athiest does.. whatever THEY want. Not being accountable or held to ANYONE or ANYTHING? Not caring how/what their family, friends etc. feel, think, say or do.. only themselves!”

    if your “morality” only comes from fear of punishment from a greater power, you’re either a child or a sociopath. the rest of us are capable of altruism and empathy without big sky daddy punishing/rewarding us.

    —–
    “If your not ready/don’t want a child- abort it… if you don’t have it.. steal it. if you don’t want a husband/ wife leave them. If you don’t like the way you were made – have plastic surgery. Do whatever you want- just so that you are happy. Everything has to be Politicly correct – because we might offend someone on accident.”

    ah yes…”they will know us by our love”, eh? what a nasty anti-woman, anti-LGBT mind you have.

  • J:

    For not believing the bible you sure do quote it a lot. Yes, i am mentally ill. At least i admit it..

  • “For not believing the bible you sure do quote it a lot.”

    how could I criticize it if I didn’t know it? that would be bigoted and ignorant of me. that particular line however is not from the bible. it’s a combination of Matthew 7:20 and John 13:35, and is the title of a song. :-p

  • Nadine:

    Damn, I think I accidentally fed a troll.

  • J:

    It is still in the bible. :-P

  • J:

    Now were sounding like 5 yr olds.

  • Beebs:

    Re: Nadine, March 5th, 2010 at 2:56 pm who wrote about the ‘megachurches’: “Isn’t it kind of sad that people need to be entertained and drawn in that much in order to find a way to help their fellow man? Maybe it’s something wrong with us as a larger society, but to me, it’s always going to seem a little tacky..”

    I think you have a point! Yes, it probably IS something wrong with us as a larger society! The same way that universities and libraries and parks are opulent and architecturally magnificent. We can’t learn somewhere less grand? We can’t enjoy nature in something less manicured? We can’t WATCH SPORTS (don’t even get me started there, lol!) without spending $100/person to get in the door? Of course we can, but we (esp. we Americans) like nice surroundings. Yeah, I’m probably shallow, (but I buy my clothes at Savers & Goodwill and avoid opulence in ways that many others may not. Again, not bragging, just trying to convey that you can’t generalize me by my church choice.)

    And I’m certainly not saying it’s the only way. I’m saying it works for me and many of the people who attend with me.

    And again, my point is not really to defend and promote megachurches, but to say MY church, for ME, doesn’t push a punishing angry God. It shows me a good example in Jesus, man or messiah (at least the way my pastor interprets the Bible’s teachings. )I reminds me of ways to treat my fellow humans with love and, as I said before, keeps me from wanting to scream at my kids, my husband, and store clerks. It makes it super easy and pleasant to give and help and open my mind to others. So when I hear snarky comments about megachurches, I ‘t get defensive. I shouldn’t. I should live and let live, but I’m human.

    Peace.

  • Spinny:

    jill: You, like so many, refer to the old testament stories which were written centuries prior to Christ, and dismiss out of hand the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament regarding the then-current view of a legalistic, punitive god

    So, are you saying that we can ignore the Old Testament? The 10 Commandments? What about the mainline Christian view of homosexuality that is based on a passage in Leviticus?

    Also, “the then-current view” of god? Are you implying that god’s nature changes based upon the way people believe at the time? Are you saying that the Old Testament is just a collection of stories written by people who believed in a harsh god who had a penchant for asking parents to kill their own children? And that the New Testament represents the true nature of god? How did you come to this conclusion?

    Malachi 3:6 says “For I, the Lord, do not change. . .”

    I was always taught the the bible–the *whole* bible–was the inspired word of god and that it was completely inerrant. You are not allowed to change even one word, one comma.

    To say that the New Testament Jesus is different from the god of the Old Testament is disingenuous at best. You cannot divorce the teachings of the Old Testament from the New Testament Jesus. They are part and parcel of one another.

    Jesus himself says in Luke 16:17 that “it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.”

    Is the bible just a set of suggestions?

  • Beebs:

    Spinny: ["I was always taught the the bible–the *whole* bible–was the inspired word of god and that it was completely inerrant. You are not allowed to change even one word, one comma."] Not all church leaders/pastors/priests are of this mind. There are different ways to interpret the original words.

  • km:

    I think if we’re reading it in English then we’ve changed a word and a comma.

  • Nadine:

    Well, if we’re going the “I was only talking about ME” route, I was also only talking about me in my first comment re: megachurches.
    So I guess we’re square?

  • Spinny:

    Nadine,

    Even hungry trolls deserve our charity sometimes.

  • Spinny:

    Beebs,

    Ahh, but picking and choosing which parts of the bible to accept can be a tricky business. How does one know which parts are inerrant and which parts are poppycock?

  • Shelly:

    Holy Cow, Rachelle…I went to church camp in Ashland too! But probably several years before you did :) Hang in there on your spiritual journey–wherever you wind up. Have to say, you are a brave girl. :)

  • D:

    Hi,
    I found what helped me to understand why old and new testament should be followed on the following site.

    http://www.answering-islam.org/Authors/Arlandson/christian_ot_use.htm

    But after reading through a lot of the comments I have come to one thought.

    I would love to see the atheist and Christians fellowship each Sunday together.

    Some rules:

    1. They are to agree that if the disagree that they will still walk as brothers or sisters.
    2. No cursing or fowl language is acceptable.
    3. The would serve each other as if they are the last 2 people left on earth.
    4. That whoever died first the other would respect that person
    belief in there funeral.

  • “No cursing or fowl language is acceptable.”

    what do you have against birds? :-p

    *runs*

  • JJ:

    The Bible has gone through so many interpretations – the good ol King James version was approved of by James himself. There are so many different translations, more “modern” ones out now. Not to mention all the initial translations between languages. And never, not ONCE has one of the “translators” ever put his own interpretation in? Please – it is so easy to just misinterpret the intended tone in an email (or blog) post.
    And the arguement that the writing was divinely led? Okay Eve and Adam ate the apple, so it is a known fact from the beginning that we all do what we want to do in the long run! ;)

    And why meet only on Sundays? Is that just another ploy? Any day would do…
    And Jadehawk – you have to be careful with those birds – they’ll poo all over you…

  • Anonymous:

    OK, Nadine. We’re totally square. You say snarky things (“blah, blah, blah”; “What’s up with all the self-congratulation in your shiny, shiny building?” “tacky”) and I try to give another point of view. Yup, we’re square.

  • Nadine:

    All of those words are my point of view, dude: *I* think it’s tacky. “Blah blah” was an ellipsis made of words. Sorry if it reads as snark (okay, I’ll give you “shiny, shiny” as snark, but that was after you told us explicity how much money your church was giving people…so yeah, I think it was okay there).
    Snark can still express a point of view (see: Jane Austen, for one). Just pointing it out doesn’t invalidate what I’m saying.

  • D:

    Thanks jadehawk for your cute on fowl. That is the first humor I have read you have posted. I am sure there is more. I got a real chuckle.

    Sorry about Sunday I was thinking that would be the only day people would not be working ect. Sure would not want to mess up Saturday.

  • Nadine – Jane Austen ROCKS AT SNARK! I think she was an atheist. She had to be! I just FEEL it!

  • Spinny:

    Rechelle, I’ve often wondered at Jane Austen’s beliefs myself. The way she portrayed Mr. Collins (a pompous ass of a clergyman) and Mary Bennet (overly moral to the point of ridiculous) in Pride & Prejudice has always made me suspicious.

  • D:

    Ah Jane Austen

    Jane Austen was the daughter of a clergyman, nearly became engaged to another, and clergymen play central roles in most of her novels. Rev Geo Austen was her father

    Jane Austen died in her sister’s arms July 18,1817. She was 41 years old and is buried in Winchester Cathedral.

    Her writings are awesome.

  • Beebs:

    Nadine, DUDE, again, Kelley WONDERED if we gave money, so I told her. “Well, if we’re going the “I was only talking about ME” route,” reads to me as snark as well.

    I guess I’m weird, I don’t like snark, when none of us know each other and we’re just trying to share thoughts. My backspace key gets a heck of a workout here because I try my best to avoid snark because to me it just inflames what could be cool, thoughtful conversation.

    I read something here about my type of church that sounded judgmental and generalizing. I wanted to add another side without getting into a fight. Every time I try to do that, it is answered with a snide comment, by you and others. MAN, and Christians are judgmental?!
    FYI, I’m not even that Christian!!!! I LOVE Jane Austin!!! I’m an NPR-listening, public library-loving science geek!!!! Give me a break!!!! To hell with the backspace key! :-)

  • km:

    Rechelle, here’s another book for you. Big disclaimer here- the first 50 pages are rough going in terms of tedium. If you pinky swear to read those 50 pages you will completely enjoy this book. I’ve leant out my copy of it unfortunately but your library should have it. http://www.amazon.com/Dream-Scipio-Iain-Pears/dp/1573229865

  • D – If anything could make a woman an atheist – it would be for her to be a great observer of life as obviously Jane was and to be the daughter of a clergyman!

    Beebs – A love for Jane makes us one. She was the master of snark. And Absolutely I agree! To HELL WITH THE BACKSPACE KEY!!!

  • Anon - call me, Rat:

    J “Anon: “These churches are any size but they only have one things on their minds, themselves.”

    um correct me if I’m wrong..but isn’t that what an athiest does.. whatever THEY want. Not being accountable or held to ANYONE or ANYTHING? Not caring how/what their family, friends etc. feel, think, say or do.. only themselves! Not that they need to agree with eachother… but consider eachother. If they don’t like something, they can just pretend it doesn’t exist because it doesn’t fit with what they want for THEMSELVES.”

    I don’t suppose to know what any athiest thinks or does. But when I first read your comment before I read the responses I was thinking, what are you saying. Are you saying then that all athiests are selfish and since my comment was about selfish churches and selfish christians therefore they are equal? That athiests are like christians and vice versa? Or perhaps selfish folks come from all walks of life, to which I agree.

    Then you go on to say you’re mentally ill and atleast you admit it. Well what is mental illiness? Is there really a thing as mental illness. Or is it just another box to put around (label) or to put someone in? And if there is a thing as mental illness, where is the line in the sand that defines what it is and what it isn’t? At what point does it just become another means of labeling and boxing? Take the obvious ADHD, which so many drug happy doctors are willing to diagnose, is it truly a mental illness or is it just a normal variation of the human mind? At what point as a society did we redraw the lines to say that this is what will be normal and what will be considered ill? At what point will the line stop being drawn and redrawn? What if a bunch of well educated, like minded folks got together and lobbied that from here on out all lefties are mentally ill because only right handed people are normal? Or that all people with blue have some sort of void in their mind causing whatever odd behavior, so you folks are all mentally ill? What is mental illness? Are we all mentally ill? Could you imagine a society where we all looked, thought, and acted alike? Is that where we are all headed when we draw and redraw the lines of what is normal and what is not? Does Hitler and his youth ring a bell?

  • Katherine:

    Very moving entry.

  • Spinny:

    Anon- call me rat: >>> um correct me if I’m wrong..but isn’t that what an athiest does.. whatever THEY want. Not being accountable or held to ANYONE or ANYTHING? Not caring how/what their family, friends etc. feel, think, say or do.. only themselves!

    I can’t tell what you are quoting and what you yourself are saying, but here’s my take on the above:

    OK, let me formally correct you. NO. That perception of an atheist is totally without merit. That is the way a sociopath behaves — without regard for others.

    Atheists are just like other human beings. They know right and wrong, they love their spouses, children and friends and want the best for them. And to be honest, it’s a little frightening that I even need to explain this. When I hear people say, “But for the influence of God in my life, I would be out raping and murdering people.” Really? The only thing standing in the way of you raping and murdering is a belief in God? Please excuse me while leave the room and run away.

    Children don’t need to be taught that it isn’t fair if I give them one cookie and the child sitting next to them five cookies. They inherently know that isn’t fair. They know that it hurts when their playmate whacks them on the head with a toy. As parents, we can use these situations as an object lesson to teach morality without the unnecessary unseen spirit who keeps track of their misdeeds.

    We can teach them “You don’t like it when Jane hits you on the head with a block. Do you think that it’s OK to hit someone else in that way? Would they like it? How would that make them feel?” Instead of, “God doesn’t like it when you hit Johnny on the head so don’t do it anymore.”

    The lesson sinks in better and is absorbed into their behavior better if it isn’t covered in “God wants you to behave this way.” Because later, they discover that God will forgive their sins so if they misbehave, they can ask forgiveness. Then what stops them from harming others? If they have no innate moral compass (that does NOT depend upon a deity for guidance), why would they not act in a selfish manner?

  • bPer:

    Anon/Rat:

    um correct me if I’m wrong..

    You’re wrong, SO wrong. It looks like you’ve been listening to the slanderous lies your preacher has been telling, and failing to engage the mind that evolution gave you.

    isn’t that what an athiest does.. whatever THEY want. Not being accountable or held to ANYONE or ANYTHING?

    Wrong. First, you’re confusing belief with morality. An atheist (not athiest) is a person who does not believe in any gods. Period. End of definition. That doesn’t say anything about the person’s morals.

    Let’s ignore that lapse of reason and examine your preacher’s lies a bit more. Suppose all atheists behaved the way you describe. It wouldn’t be long before such despicable sociopaths would run afoul of the law. A whole society of such people would be a living hell. What does the evidence show? American studies backed by government statistics show that non-theists are dramatically under-represented in prison populations. And surveys in Scandinavia, where atheists make up a much higher proportion of the population, show rates of criminality are lower than in the US (and incidentally, indices of social health (happiness etc) are higher). So it looks like atheists and other non-theists lead more moral lives than theists.

    Most atheists I’ve encountered use as their moral base the Golden Rule (which existed long before the Bible). Some go further, adopting Humanism, for example, to flesh things out a bit. Have a look at the IHEU’s declaration, and in particular, these words:

    Humanism … affirms the worth, dignity and autonomy of the individual and the right of every human being to the greatest possible freedom compatible with the rights of others. … Humanists believe that morality is an intrinsic part of human nature based on understanding and a concern for others, needing no external sanction.

    One more thing. Consider the motivations of your clergy. Atheism represents an existential threat to the church and the clergy’s livelihood. It is in their interests to lie about atheism, to try to keep you from checking it out yourself. You’ve been a good little sheep, stuck your brain in neutral, and uncritically accepted their lies. Not impressive.

    βPer

  • Anon - call me, Rat:

    Spinny “I can’t tell what you are quoting and what you yourself are saying, but here’s my take on the above:”

    I’m sorry I was quoting J who was quoting me and asking J’s question and my response was that there are selfish people form all walks of life. And that the slope of who is and isn’t mentally ill seems to be a quite slippery one.

  • Anon - call me, Rat:

    Spinny “Atheists are just like other human beings.”

    Disagree!

    Athiests are not a subcatorgory of human beings. No, atheists are human beings with that belief system. Just like J’s comment led me to believe that J was assuming that all atheists are selfish, wrong, etc, your comment leads me to believe that you believe that all athiests are, “They know right and wrong, they love their spouses, children and friends and want the best for them.” To which I disagree. Because neither assumption is correct.

    Human beings are like other human beings because we’re human. All humans despite they’re belief system have the capacity to be either good, bad, right, wrong, etc…

  • Anon - call me, Rat:

    Spinny I do think you and I do agree on quite a few points. But I am not the one who quoted that all atheists were evil abominate. I just happened to be questioned by J who spouted off that tasty atheists are evil abominate stuff and I was merely trying to figure out exactly what J was getting at. Sorry for any confusion! :)

  • Anon - call me, Rat:

    bPar again wrong person to be chewing on, read my above comment to Spinny. That evil abominate stuff was spouted off by J way way above. Thanks! ;-)

  • Anon - call me, Rat:

    bPar just to go on record I don’t have a preacher or attend church anywhere or am a member of any church. :)

  • Anon - call me, Rat:

    sorry, bPer …. heh to much coco in my milk tonight

  • Raised as a good Catholic, I nevertheless always hated going to church on Sundays. Not that I was any kind of pious youth or anything, but between reading my Dad’s PLAYBOY magazines kyped from his room to tackling girls in the field during grade school for a quick grope, I felt outside of my religion, not part of it… didn’t make any sense, none of the stories, none of the homilies or teachings.

    Sundays were horrible… Dad would make my younger brother and I get up and get dressed and WALK to church, something like 2 miles, while he stayed home and read the paper and drank coffee and got a huge breakfast ready, since we weren’t allowed to eat until after we got back from church.

    With collection plate offerings in hand ($1 each), the first thing we did when we got to church was to gorge ourselves on donuts and hot chocolate because we were STARVING. Then after the service, we’d s l o w l y walk home, trying to make ourselves hungry again, because we knew that waiting for us was a gigantic meal of bacon and eggs and hash browns and pancakes and saudage and toast and jelly and… well, Sunday afternoons were usually spent in a kiddie food coma.

    As for falling from the faith, for me it started with a burgeoning love of science fiction novels sometime in 1968… Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clark, and of course a copy of Asimov’s ‘The Foundation Trilogies’ given to me by a childless Boy Scout leader/volunteer who, looking back on it now, was likely some type of pedophile, though thankfully I was spared from his leanings. I still have that book and shudder when I see his note to me inside the cover, written in pencil. Ew.

    Anyways, I read and freaked out on Clarke’s ’2001- A Space Odyssey’ novel… the whole concept just MADE SENSE TO ME, way moreso than anything we studied in catechism. Soon afterwards Dad took me to see the film release in the theater and… sitting there in the theater, I had what I now know was a personal epiphany: religion was bunk, a sham, nothing but baloney. The concepts now (then) in my head, thanks to Mr. Clarke, would forever bend my mind away from religion and towards a much greater understanding that we humans beings KNOW NOTHING except what we teach and learn ourselves.

    I was joking with Dad recently about that moment in my young life and he harumphed and told me that movie was and is still the single worst movie he had ever seen. Good for him, and good for me. I’ve never looked back since, and I can now say that my life without religion, without mythical and fable-filled dogma has been a bejewled existence of happiness and sorrow, of learning and joy and hope and the knowledge that when I’m gone, I’m done.

    Thanks, Rechelle…we really are a community, and I for one am glad to be part of yours.

  • Wow I have read your article and by the way I found you website on Yahoo and I think after I read particularpost on you website especially this one I have my own opinion about what should I comment on the next hang out with my family, maybe tomorrow I will tell my familyabout this one and get debate.