Browsing Archives for March 2010


Friday night during a wine guzzling gathering with a few friends, I learned (after the wine had loosened our lips) that a local Baptist congregation has distributed my website address to their congregation via tiny slips of paper on a recent Sunday morning.  I am not sure why the slips of paper had to be so tiny, but I am guessing it would be so that the recipients could easily chew them up and swallow them if they were ever taken into custody by the local Jesus police. 

I have also heard that the Baptists are praying for me.  

Let me check and see if they prayers are working.

Yes…

Yep…

Wait…

WAIT…

Yep…..

YEP!!!!

Wait…

WAIT…

No!

NO!!!

NO!!!!!

Dammit!

I am still an atheist.

But then, it is not that surprising that the prayers wouldn’t work is it?  

Prayer has been proven to be completely ineffective over and over and OVER  again! 

In fact, prayers for medical recovery can result in further complications!  

So stop praying for your sick friends and relatives!

Or at least stop TELLING them that you are praying for them!

You are only making it WORSE!

 

And welcome local Baptists!  

I am glad you are here!

Feel free to join in the conversation.

If you are looking for the ‘cornerstone posts’ that explain why I became an atheist after 41 years of devout christianity – here are the links…

How I Became an Atheist  - A Parable

Former Christian Apologizes for Being Such a Huge Shit Head for All Those Years.

CDW Writes Better Ten Commandments Than God and It Wasn’t Even HARD!

And here is the story about when Two Baptist Missionaries Visited Me!  

Feel free to poke around my web site as much as you like.  If after exploring this site you discover that you are experiencing a few small twinges of doubt yourself and would like to talk to someone who will not fill your head with bronze age bible verses, please consider emailing me.  If you have long suspected that there really isn’t a man who lives in the sky who gives even half a mouse turd about the plight of humanity, you are not alone. There are many of us. Check out this post for some great resources.  And please don’t forget to read the comments. They are often the best and most entertaining part of my blog these days.  

Thanks for stopping by!

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In Other News….

Yes, I live in a small town and yes small towns have a tendency to be all up in everyone’s business which can be wonderful if your house burns down or you get really sick or you lose a loved one.  There are some nice advantages to small town life and my community does respond to people’s hardship if they know about it and can figure out a way to help.  Lots of different kinds of people respond to crisis in our town – both religious and non-religious.  The church-goers don’t have a corner on the market when it comes to helping out their neighbors.  

A few days ago, I was depositing my recycling in the big trailers down by the railroad tracks.  As I reached into the back of my van to pull out the last stack of newspapers, I looked up and there was ‘Bob’ (not his real name). Bob and I went to church together for eight years.  We served on committees together and even taught a Sunday school class together for two years. I had thought about Bob more than once over the past few months since my new ‘outlook on life’ became public and I knew in the depths of my heart that of all the people in my former church, Bob would be okay with it.   

Short note about my former church – I attended a somewhat liberal church.  The focus was truly service and fellowship.  It was not a bible beating type church nor a lunatic fringe church. The church had rubber walls and lots of people with different shades and severity of belief felt comfortable there.  But of all of the people that I knew in my former church – Bob was one of the most questioning, the best guitar players and the least likely to judge me for my stormy departure.  

So when I looked up and saw Bob leaning out of his truck and calling out a greeting, my face broke into a relaxed smile.  I knew he wouldn’t condemn me, wouldn’t hate me, and wouldn’t try to change my mind.  We talked for about fifteen minutes and it was a great conversation. He told me that he respected me for saying what I believed.  I told him that I always knew that he would be okay with my change of heart.  We talked about why we were the kind of people that could have this conversation without feeling defensive.  We talked about life and life after death and the difference between agnostics and atheists.  We talked about my kids and his dad and how life is so valuable.  We both teared up a few times.  The wind picked up and drug my tears across my face.  We finished the conversation by saying we hoped we could talk again some time.  Bob started his truck back up and headed back to work.  I closed the back door of the van and slid into the driver’s seat.  And that’s when I  glanced up at the rear view mirror and noticed that my left eye had dribbled mascara down my cheek in three black rivers.  I looked like a total freak!  I looked like I was channeling Richmond from the IT Crowd.  Thank goodness Bob was a longtime rock and roller so my goth look probably didn’t bother him much!


Have you not heard of Richmond?
Here’s a link to a brief synopsis of the life of Richmond and how he went from rising business executive to all around strange goth guy.  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFZP0bn40sg

I think Richmond is my new all purpose metaphor.

I got an email today from a reader who informed me about a religious debate that is unfolding over at (oh holy hell) Pioneer Woman.  So I went over and checked it out and this is what seems to be going down.

1.  Mrs. G. a long time contributor to PW, wrote a post in the homeschooling section about her unravelling faith in Catholicism.

2.  She went on to say that because of her religious struggle – she decided to teach her kids about all religions and let them choose for themselves.

3.  I have no idea if atheism was presented as an option for her kids, but after studying all the religions – I imagine that it is the only conclusion at which any sane person could arrive.

4.  The Catholics started showing up and commenting on Mrs. G’s post.

5.  They are pissed.

6.  Other types of Christians started showing up too.

7.  They are also pissed.

8.  I left a comment as well.

9.  Yes – it was pissed too – not at Mrs. G – but towards the angry christians who are commenting – sorry – that is just my modus operandi these days.  Especially under the influence of the volatile cocktail of homeschooling and religion.

10.  There are so many people that have been reading this blog lately that state the case for unbelief SO WELL – that I had to at least present the option for a few others to comment on that post too.  

11.  If you feel so compelled.

12.  Rock the christian homeschoolers world!

13.  Did I just type that out loud?

14.  Mrs. G’s Post on Homechooling all the Religions

13.  Happy Weekending!

 

PS – I just checked the link to see if it was working and discovered that my comment has been removed.  What I said was something like this… 

There is no god.

At least not for the Haitians

And all the kids that were sodomized by Catholic priests

And all the little girls hidden in boxes, caves and tunnels for the pleasure of a pedophile

And for the one million people burned for heresy during the inquistion. 

And for the six million Jews that died in the Holocaust.

If there is a god

Which there isn’t.

He sure is a sick, helpless bastard.

Charles Darwin disproved the need for god 130 years ago.

Too bad he was talking to a bunch of recently evolved monkeys.

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…

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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…?

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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…

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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…