Fahrenheit 451

September 22, 2007 at 10:46 pm 30 comments

Harry Potter book burning, Christ Community Church, Alamogordo, New Mexico, 2001Heather, a frequent commentor on this site, once made the following comment to one of my articles:

“…another thing I’ve found interesting about conservative Christianity in general — discouraging members from reading books that promote opposing viewpoints. Or just reading books on those opposing viewpoints that are written by conservative Christianity.”

So several months ago when Heather made this comment, I put my memory cap on, and I sat about thinking about what books I have been discouraged from reading, what movies I was discouraged from watching, etc. I tried to remember everything that I was explicitly warned about by clergy or my parents, for strictly religious reasons. Were they trying to protect me? Were they trying to hide something from me? Were they trying to keep me from falling into sin, or challenge God with questions?

I published a long list about 7 months ago on my old website, and I thought I would re-publish them here. Maybe some of the readers here can relate to this.

When I was a very young boy I was told, by either the church or my mother, to dispense of, not watch, or pay no heed to the following items:

  • Song of Solomon from the Bible (too racy)
  • An animal show that I liked as a child, that I cannot remember the name of (No, I don’t think it was Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. I was allowed to watch ol’ Marlin Perkins). There was always a segment on this show which described how the animal of the week evolved from some extinct animal to its present day form.
  • My Bible Picture Book (my own mother said this was inappropriate, but I’m not sure why – maybe she did not like an interpretation of a particular story?)
  • My 45 rpm single of Convoy by CW McCall (it contains the line “eleven long-haired friends of Jesus in a chartreuse microbus”)
  • The Ten Commandments movie (half of it was viewed by my church as blasphemous fiction, but the parting of the Red Sea scene threw my grandmother into a fit of Holy Ghost tongue speakin’!!)
  • My dinosaur flashcard set

The following TV shows were banned strictly on religious grounds:

  • I Dream of Genie
  • Bewitched (church rumor had it that Agnes Moorhead was a real witch)
  • My Favorite Martian

As I got older, my mother enrolled me in a private Baptist school. The school was in the 3 room basement of the local Baptist Church.

ALL rock music, in fact nearly all music of any kind, was banned at my Baptist school. Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Kiss and Elvis (of all people) were given specific attention as being Satanic. I was at least allowed to play some of my music for the principal before he passed judgment. He banned everything I played for him except an ambient snippet of a Kansas song that I used for a school play. The music I played for him, hoping for acceptance, included the bands Yes, Rush, Devo, Jethro Tull and Moody Blues. I didn’t even try to play him other stuff I liked that I thought had no chance of passing through his filter. I was also really getting into jazz at the time, but he put a stop to that, claiming all jazz to be self-indulgent and not glorifying to God. My mom was much more accepting of my music than that school, but she did confiscate my brother’s Love Gun LP by Kiss. She also questioned why one of my Yes albums featured a naked man on the cover.

These are all books that I was threatened with confiscation by my Baptist school. They never outright took these from me, but I was told never to read them on school grounds again. I was caught reading these mostly in the bus to a basketball game or during lunch. I admit that while I did enjoy all these books, I sometimes blatantly read them on school grounds just to rattle the Baptist principal’s cage. My version of geek teenage rebellion, I guess.

  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  • The Hobbit by Tolkien
  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by Tolkien
  • The Silmarillion by Tolkien
  • The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Illearth War by Stephen Donaldson (if memory serves. It was one of the Covenant Books)
  • The Time Machine by HG Wells
  • Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (This one got me in a
    LOT of trouble)
  • I nearly had CS Lewis’ Narnia series banned, but it was a hard sell.

The game Dungeons and Dragons gave particular ire, and was repeatedly banned by church, school and parents. I tried to get around it by playing a subpar game called Tunnels and Trolls, but nothing doing.

The Baptist school discouraged us from seeing ANY movie in the theater. Fortunately, my mother was a little more liberal than that, as she did let us see cinematic gems like The Apple Dumpling Gang and The Lincoln Conspiracy. She did relent and let us see Star Wars when nearly every other teenager on the planet was going. The only movie that I can remember being forbidden to see by my mother for strictly religious reasons was Monty Python’s Life of Brian. I am tempted to include The Exorcist here, but really that movie is not suitable for children anyway so I won’t.

As I got older, nothing was outright banned from me by the church. We are in the United States after all, and it is easier to ban these things from impressionable children than law abiding adults. However, the Pulpit was still used to actively tell us certain movies, books and music were unacceptable to God. The following is a list of things that were strongly discouraged by the churches that I have attended over the years. These are movies that I remember being actively discouraged from the Pulpit:

  • The Last Temptation of Christ
  • Brokeback Mountain
  • Jesus Christ Superstar
  • Jackass (TV Show)
  • Beavis and Butthead (TV Show)
  • The DaVinci Code
  • Phenomenon
  • The Prince of Egypt
  • Bruce Almighty
  • Rent
  • Cheers (TV Show)
  • The Simpsons (TV Show)

Strangely enough, I was actually encouraged to see The Omen by one of my Bible teachers.

For some reason, books seem to get more attention than movies. These books were named and actively discouraged by churches that I have attended:

  • The Apocrypha of the Catholic Church Canon
  • The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown
  • Holy Blood Holy Grail by some folks I can’t remember
  • Catcher in the Rye by Salinger
  • The Urantia Book by.. by Space Aliens I guess
  • The Harry Potter Series (I lived just a few miles from Christ Community Church, which sponsored the book burning seen in the above photo)
  • Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale
  • The Miracle of Seed Faith by Oral Roberts
  • Quest for the Historical Jesus by Albert Schweitzer (I think a very odd book to mention from the pulpit)
  • Anything by John Shelby Spong
  • Anything by Erich Von Danikan
  • Anything by Henry Miller
  • Good Morning, Holy Spirit by Benny Hinn
  • I’m OK, You’re OK by Thomas Harris
  • The Book of Mormon
  • Dianetics by L Ron Hubbard
  • The Gospel of Thomas
  • The Gospel of Judas

The number of musicians we were warned of from the Pulpit are too numerous to mention. But there was one incident that will live in my memory forever. A number of years ago I had a prayer meeting in my apartment, and everyone noticed my enormous collection of LPs (I had several hundred at the time – music has always been a passion of mine). After several hours of Holy Conviction by my hyper-Pentacostal buddies, and convinced of my own sinfulness against God, I willingly threw every last one of those LPs in the dumpster – well almost. I saved only two LPs that I did not tell my friends about. They were too difficult to part with, as the songs on those LPs projected a deeply rooted spiritual hope that would stay with me to this day. One of the LPs featured a song called ‘He is Sailing’.

This is an enormous amount of effort by others to keep outside influence away from me and out of my Christian life. Looking back at this list, it is interesting to me how long it is, and I live in a very permissive and free nation! I cannot imagine the repressive hell lived by those who have experienced true censorship, or really experienced Orwell’s Thought Police enforcing a Fahrenheit 451-type policy, be it political or church driven. When the Church gains political strength, I think that is when real trouble begins. Given human nature, I have no doubt that had the Christian Church the power and political force that it once had, most every one of these items (and whole lots more that I did not mention) would have been outright banned from our society. It has happened before, it is still happening outside the United States, and there is nothing guaranteeing that it could not happen again.

Photo: Harry Potter book burning, Christ Community Church, Alamogordo, New Mexico, 2001

- HeIsSailing

Entry filed under: HeIsSailing. Tags: , , , , , , , .

What’s a Good Reason to Reject a Belief as False? A Personal Relationship with Jesus?

30 Comments Add your own

  • 1. ESVA  |  September 22, 2007 at 11:07 pm

    Good post, as usual. I’ve been associated with evangelicalism all my life, so we were a bit more liberal than you guys. When Indecent Proposal came out lots of preachers in my denomination railed against it. I think they probably did so based on the synopses in reviews rather than the movie itself. When I finally got around to watching the movie, I was pleasantly surprised that it had some thoughtful insights into the trust that lies at the bedrock of a successful marriage. It was really quite thoughtful rather than trashy.

  • 2. Epiphanist  |  September 22, 2007 at 11:21 pm

    South Park is not on the list! Beauty, I can still watch that.

  • 3. HeIsSailing  |  September 22, 2007 at 11:28 pm

    ESVA, I have never seen (nor heard of) Indecent Proposal. But I think I understand what you mean. I have never seen Last Temptation of Christ, but after learning what it is about, I am a little confused why so many churches protested it.

    Epiphanist
    No, oddly enough, I don’t remember any of my churches blasting South Park. I think by the time that show came on the air, the church I was attending at the time was a little … older and not really into that kind of stuff.

  • 4. LeoPardus  |  September 23, 2007 at 12:46 am

    I have to admit to getting a bit of amusement out of all this. Not because it happened to you, but because it happened at all. The stupidity of it all is just funny to me. Sorry if my funny bone seems misaligned.

    I did actually go protest “The Last Temptation of Christ”. Thanks to my efforts and those of many others, the movie did better than it otherwise would have. :P

    At least I learned from that. After that foolishness I figured out that if I didn’t like something, I could just nut see/read/listen to it. Others weren’t too apt to care about my opinions on movies/books/music/medicine…

  • 5. HeIsSailing  |  September 23, 2007 at 4:43 am

    Thus saith LeoPardus:

    Sorry if my funny bone seems misaligned.

    Not a problem. This article was supposed to be a little light hearted, since I figure so many ex-Christians (and even present-Christians) have gone through the same silliness.

    I did actually go protest “The Last Temptation of Christ”.

    I protested The Da Vinci Code when my wife wanted to see it. You know, when I did that I knew there was a problem. She said she did not take it seriously, and that it was just a dopey story, and all the while I was yelling “blasphemy!” Then I listened to myself – and I realized how foolish I must have sounded. I am deeply ashamed for doing that to my wife, especially since I knew nothing about the movie or book, and was just following the herd led by those rabidly against it from the pulpit. I felt like I was being led around like a sheep, and I am glad that, despite my embarrassment, I snapped out of it. It is one of those catalyists that ultimately lead to me *really* investigating the Bible and where it comes from and finally leaving the faith.

    When we did see the movie, I had to agree with her on one thing – yeah, it was pretty dopey. ;-)

  • 6. Stephen P  |  September 23, 2007 at 8:06 am

    Thanks for an enlightening and depressing post. I didn’t realise the net was cast so wide – though in the case of L. Ron Hubbard I can perhaps find some sympathy for the prohibition. At least you didn’t have all television banned, as in the case of some fundamentalists.

    In our liberal tradition there wasn’t much banning. One vicar even played bits of Jesus Christ Superstar for us one year, and the Hobbit was a school set book for 11-year olds.

    On the other hand The Life of Brian was somewhat frowned upon, and when I once expressed an interest in the contents of the Apocrypha my curiosity wasn’t exactly encouraged. Probably I would have encountered more prohibitions if my taste had been more rebellious (I didn’t like rock music).

    The only three things I can recall that were absolutely off-limits were:
    - Ouija boards
    - Talking to Jehovah’s Witnesses
    - (At school) playing cards. I never understood this one – any pack of cards would be immediately confiscated, even if one was just playing solitaire/patience.

    (BTW one quibble: the spelling is “Tolkien”)

  • 7. samanthamj  |  September 23, 2007 at 11:40 am

    Ha! Great post. Took me down memory lane. My list was much like yours. I think, it would be easier to list out the things that were allowed then to list the tings that were not. My mother could find evil in the sitcom “Happy Days” if she watched it with me. I use to constantly be ready to change the channel, no matter WHAT I was watching or listening to, when she walked in.

    Ouijji boards and say-ons scared the crap out of me. I never touched one. LOL

    My father bought me a book, when I was about 13, about cave men. I thought my mother was going to have complete breakdown…
    ;)
    ~smj

  • 8. HeIsSailing  |  September 23, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    Stephen, smj,
    Yeah, I had completely forgotten about ouiji boards. Actually, I think I remember one of my pastors saying that since the rights to ouiji boards were purchased and manufactured by Parker Brothers, we should not buy any Parker Brothers games at all. Gosh, that was a long time ago though, I don’t know if that is still the case.

    My father bought me a book, when I was about 13, about cave men. I thought my mother was going to have complete breakdown…

    Yeah, my mother got me a dinosaur flashcard set when I was about 10 or 11. She knew nothing about science vs religion, she just knew I liked science at a young age and she indulged me. But my grandmother saw those flashcards and burned them in the stove right before my eyes. She was the type that believed fossils were created in rocks to decieve us away from God. Fortunately, I never believed that!!

  • 9. WhoreChurch  |  September 23, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    Christianity: We Can’t Handle the Truth

  • 10. karen  |  September 23, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    Oh my goodness. My heart is breaking over your record collection, HIS. That’s awful. :-(

    I don’t remember a whole lot of things being banned specifically. Of course we were told to stay away from anything to do with the occult, horror movies, and other religions or religious points of view, New Age – that was all off-limits. God had “put boundaries” around our minds for our own protection, so the story was told.

    Tolkien, Lewis and other religious allegories were actually encouraged in the churches I attended. Or at least there were no objections. At Presbyterian junior high summer camp, the music leader used to sing Jim Croce songs like Time in a Bottle while all the girls swooned (he was cute)! :-)

    When I started questioning Christianity, I was reading the Harry Potter books to my kids and loving them. Then the other moms at church told me I was putting my children in danger and being led astray. I could see that was patently ridiculous – of course those doing the criticizing hadn’t bothered to read the books for themselves.

    That experience, and a similar experience when I became a fan of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer tv show (totally forbidden!), made me realize how fed up I was about not being trusted to make my own decisions, as a grown up.

  • 11. Shannon Lewis  |  September 23, 2007 at 6:44 pm

    Dude.
    I’m so sorry.
    Sounds like you missed out on some really awesome books, movies, and mostly music. How did you survive teen-dom without them?

  • 12. mewho  |  September 23, 2007 at 11:00 pm

    Add “Threes Company” to the list for me.

  • 13. Stu  |  September 25, 2007 at 8:23 pm

    It just makes me frustrated and angry that people have to go through this. I went through a similar thing with my parents when I was young. I still have to tread carefully around my little brother and sister. My mum got really mad when I played my brother some purely instrumental prog rock. As if the music itself was evil. Crazy.

  • 14. samanthamj  |  September 26, 2007 at 12:29 am

    mewho –
    Three’s company! Ha! I forgot about that one! Yeah… it was pretty racy… a guy pretending to be gay… LOL

    HeIsSailing –
    So sorry to hear about your dinosaur cards. That sucks, dude. I’m sure my mom wanted to burn my book… her piercing glare almost did on it’s own… but, since it came from my Dad, and she was under the impression that she needed to let him be the head of the household – even though she thought he was the devil himself – she didn’t take away my book. I read the whole darn thing… soaked it up like a sponge… and then, of course, felt guilty about it. LOL

    Stu –
    Invest in headphones… for you and your little brother and sister. =)

    ~smj

  • 15. angel & devil  |  September 26, 2007 at 1:27 am

    Re : Harry Potter book burning… I am so wounded… I love Harry Potter. But hey maybe they think that by burning and renouncing the books physically it will burn the ‘evil spirit’ behind them. :)
    At least that’s explanation given by my old church.

    Allow me to add to your list of “NO NO” by the church.
    I’m a Malaysian Chinese. As such it is a tradition for Chinese to go to the temple during Chinese New Year to get ‘blessings’ and pay our respects to the pagan gods. Of course it is a big big NO when I became a Christian.

    I still remember asking a church elder “But the Bible says He that is in me is greater than he that is in the world. So why can’t I visit the temple? or watch The Omen?” I don’t recall the exact long long answer given but the essence was that I must be ‘grounded’ enough in my faith before I can go to a temple because they fear transferance of “the evil spirits behind those pagan gods” to my spirit. I still remember going home thinking how can I be more ‘grounded’ in my faith in Christ? I also remember how fearful I felt whenever I passed by a temple ‘imagining devilish spirits spitting fire at me’ and Christ in me is not srong enough because my faith is not strong enough.

    Looking back – what a load of crap! and the then teenage me fell for it since Christianity gave me the love and acceptance into a community of friends.

    Sadly there are many Chinese teenagers with non-Christian families in Malaysia who became Christian and vehemently told their parents “I’m not going to the temple with you on New Year, and I’m not going to hold a joss stick to grandpa’s ashes because there are evil spirits in all those stuff.”

    IMHO the organized Christian religion operates generally based on 3 methods :

    1) First invite them with the Love of Christ (the dying for you and suffering for your sins so you may have eternal life thingy) The non-believers only have to agree and accept – and they get a whole lot of Approval, Acceptance and Belonging with a new Family in Christ.

    2) Second, when they are in the ‘club’ (as someone wrote in this site) they proceed to indoctrinate their believers with Christian beliefs (the ‘study the Bible as your daily bread since it’s the spiritual manna from God’ thingy), get baptized, speak in tongues (which I can still speak now after de-converting :) – is it the devil, Holy Spirit or is it me?)

    3) And finally – when old ‘babies in Christ’ start to realize the Bible raises many questions about the whole theology of Christianity – they forbid them to think or do anything that questions the validity and supremacy of Christianity. The church forbid them to explore and seek answers from other sources of knowledge other than the Bible and ‘sanctioned Christian books / tapes / sermons’
    They do this with 2 most common methods :
    - inducing fear ‘of the evil one’ and fear ‘of eternal damnation’ for lack of faith.
    - Inducing guilt – “You say you love Jesus because He first loved you… You believe that to be true, isn’t that enough? Why must you question the Bible? God’s ways are not our ways so stop questioning and have faith”

    I wrote about being indoctrinated by Christianity in my blog and I’m in the process of de-indoctrinating myself now.

  • 16. lostgirlfound  |  September 26, 2007 at 10:35 am

    You continue to amaze me! What a great post!
    My story’s a little different. Since my parents were not “saved” until they were older, they were lots more lienient with what I watched, heard, etc. etc. My mom did call me out on “Sister Marmalade,” because she understood French enough to know what the suggestive chorus was asking …

    In fact, the little Wesleyan church I grew up in “frowned” on out and out rebellion (duh), but was pretty accepting overall. It wasn’t until I got to a “Christian College” that I learned how evil I was .. Def Lepard blasting during “open hours” (a time when boys could visit girls with open doors and no one sitting on the bed …). “Books” being brought into question because of their “different” world view. I openedly rebelled the first two years, then lost myself and “fell into line.”

    I, too, early on in my “pentacostal” phase gave away a ton of classic albums …. it still sickens me to this day. (note: I gave them away to my “less spiritual” friends…) Dear God, forgive my judgmental, self-righteous shit that I choked on all those years … wow. I’ve come a long way back to who I really am.

    With our kids (much to my pastor husband’s chagrin), we are very open … within reason. I shy them away from the sexual stuff (like being a teenager isn’t tough enough without skewing their own body images), but various world views are discussed, read, analysed (“What do you thing? What do you believe and why?) and we secretly smile at each other when some of our “religious” friends go off on Tolkien or Harry Potter or whatever the flavor of the religious right is at the time.

    It is amazing, in a country where “freedom” is the matra, we are so bound, isn’t it? I listened to a conversation yesterday by three “church leaders” who wanted force the president and people of Iran to either get in line with our ideas or be damned. I countered, and they backed down (I can be a little forceful), but I still cringe, thinking people are exposed to this self-absorbed, self righteous train of thought all the time …

    OK, enough rambling!

  • 17. LeoPardus  |  September 26, 2007 at 12:22 pm

    Reading some of what folks had thrown at them, I can see why many ex-Christians are angry or bitter toward their former faith. (Not pointing at anyone here. Most folks here seem pretty relaxed about their former faith.)
    I’m glad that most of my Christian experience was rather grace-oriented. There were some who frowned on certain activities, books, music, etc. but I didn’t encounter much really hardline attitudes against such things.
    Lucky me ti would seem.

  • 18. karen  |  September 26, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    Reading some of what folks had thrown at them, I can see why many ex-Christians are angry or bitter toward their former faith. (Not pointing at anyone here. Most folks here seem pretty relaxed about their former faith.)

    For most of us, it takes time. I admit I was angry and bitter for the first couple of years after deconversion, especially when thinking about all the choices I made and time I spent influenced by this teaching that I now rejected.

    I still occasionally have those thoughts, and am particularly outraged by some of the power the Religious Right has in this country, but by and large the personal anger has subsided and I have a more balanced outlook.

  • 19. StaCeY  |  September 30, 2007 at 6:53 am

    I’m so sorry HeIsSailing,

    Especially the part about the record collection just made me sick inside. So much of the music you mentioned formed my life… who I am today, and that is a good thing.
    (I am a jazz/rock musician today. BTW, classic YES was one of my absolute favorites as a teen as well!)

    I was lucky because my mom didn’t go into her heavy duty religious thing until I was already well into my teendom.
    She KNEW it was a lost cause to try and ban my music and stuff. I’ve always been a rebel. She centered her battles around my cigarettes, and getting stoned. (which BTW, was ALSO a lost cause. lol)

    My eldest daughter is lucky,
    because I came out of my heavy duty religios thing,
    (that I eventually modeled from my own mom),
    JUST as she was approaching her own teendom.

    The religious thing would have never allowed her to be and become the amazing and unique individual she is today.
    So much would have been lost for her, and it grieves me just to think about it. Especially in the teen years, religion can be a real “personhood” squasher.

    Also, because of what I see about who I WAS and why, my daughter has a life totally FOCUSED around her deepest most meaningful artistic interests and talents (she was born an artist). I don’t ban ANYTHING. We discuss things together rationally and calmly. In the end she makes her own decisions. She has only made good ones to date.

    For me “school” had been my controling substitute for “religion” growing up. Do this, don’t do that, read this, write that! UGH. All frickin day long! Five days a week! Total life takeover. (Getting high seemed to be the only viable escape for me at the time).

    Anyway, my daughter has neither the strangulation of either “school” or “religion” in her life, as she reaches for the future she invisions for herself. She is TRULY FREE to be who she is, and develop her own gifts and interests. Institution & hellfire free. It makes me so very very happy for her!

  • 20. HeIsSailing  |  September 30, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    Thanks for your comments StACy. Yeah, it is really amazing how influential music can be, eh? It can drag you into the depths of despair and lift your soul above the clouds. It can provide meaning, comfort in times of need and even provide answers to the searching soul.

    Gee, sounds like a certain someone I used to know, huh?

    Seriously, music is a very powerful force, as are most forms of art. It is very influential to young teenage minds, and open adult minds as well.

  • 21. anna  |  March 5, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    I understand what each of you are saying; but have you ever tried hard to understand what your church was getting at? I don’t believe it was a control issue. Can you not see that all of the things that you think are okay really have no place in a Christian’s life? When you have a real relationship with God, “worldly” things take a back seat… they are no longer very attractive…. at least that is what I found to be the case after my own conversion 13 years ago. But as children who perhaps are not yet “saved”, “born again”, or “have a personal relationship with the Lord”, the world is indeed very attractive. I know this first from experience, and also because I have 2 children ages 5 and 8 whom I do not believe have come to know God yet in their hearts. I have not been very strict about what they watch on tv or what they listen to musically… but I have been consistent in pointing out in a loving (hopefully) way just what is wrong with those things.. and why I believe they are not for anyone who desires to know and follow God. (you might call it those teachable moments). But as I grow in my own understanding , my own faith, I am becoming more and more concerned about all of this and how it is effecting my children. I pray that I have done a good enough job so far to counter any bad effects( via the teachable moments), and by my own example, but now I am beginning to seriously take some steps (gently) to weed this stuff out of our home and away from my children. I do this very carefully; I try to bring in other things that will capture their imaginations rather than just say “no more”! and turn off the tv, etc. In other words, I am steering them away from these things and towards better things for their minds and souls.

    You all are right about music and it’s power ….any form of art has a kind of power to mold us and impress upon us all kinds of things which is why the church steers people (especially children) away from most secular music and art. When I listen to the lyrics of secular music, it is always about “false Gods” if you will. It misses the point about life for a Christian. Life for a Christian is only found in God …in Christ. Not in the things we turn to when we don’t know Him. Do you understand what I mean? This is why I believe your pastors and parents kept you away from it…. to protect you and give you the chance to know God before the world got a hold of you. They were trying to lay a foundation…. not brainwash you. I know when my kids are grown, I will have no control over whether or not they know God and have a real relationship with Him. In fact, as each year goes by, I am more and more aware of this fact. Only God can bring them into relationship with Him, but i believe it is my job as a parent to do all I can to” make the ground furtile ” and “plant the seeds” if you know what I mean. I want so much for my children to have what I have been so blessed to receive. This has been and continues to be my prayer for them every day since they were born; because I know if they have a real relationship with God then they will be fine…. they will be okay no matter what happens to them in life. I think this is what your parents wanted for all of you. Maybe some of them were not sure of their own relationship with God and so they “tried too hard” so to speak because they themselves were not truely converted in their hearts and were more concerned about outward appearances, keeping their kids in line, etc. I’m sorry for that, if that is the case for some of you…. but it is not a reason to completely turn off to God. As adults, you need to look objectivley and truthfully at both sides. If you are honestly seeking the truth about life, none of these things will keep you from God ….. but only if you are honestly seeking and wanting to know truth. This has been my own experience… but it is a long way around that some of us have to go through… but I found that God cannot be disproved. He’s not afraid of anything you can uncover in your search because none of it will be able to disprove Him. That’s what I have found, anyway. I just hope my kids do not have to spend a lifetime before they know Him. I am trying to give them a better chance by doing my best to provide them with a good starting point for the journey. God bless you all… thanks for listening.

  • 22. Joshua  |  March 5, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    “think this is what your parents wanted for all of you. Maybe some of them were not sure of their own relationship with God and so they “tried too hard” so to speak because they themselves were not truely converted in their hearts and were more concerned about outward appearances, keeping their kids in line, etc. I’m sorry for that, if that is the case for some of you…. but it is not a reason to completely turn off to God.”

    Well certainly any parent – of a religious affiliation or not – should desire the best for their children.

    So a parent who believes in the claims of a sect of Christianity will believe following those claims will lead to a happier life. The parent will then teach these claims to their children. It is almost always done out of love and care for the child.

    But this does not mean those claims are correct. For me, I discovered the claims that I grew up with (God exists, the Bible is His Word, the earth was created six thousand years ago, God has a special plan for my life, etc.) were just not true.

    So then, for me at least it is not a knock on my parents love, just a recognition that knowledge (faith claims) they used to raise me were not true.

    “He’s not afraid of anything you can uncover in your search because none of it will be able to disprove Him.”

    Of course it cannot be disproved, because one cannot disprove something which is a concept. This would be like asking someone to disprove that forgiveness exists. Is it possible?

    Unless, of course, one defines God in a way that predicts how He would interact with the world – like Christianity does. Then we have something to disprove. For example, if a person defines God as loving and defines loving as doing that which is in the best interest of the object that is loved, then this God can be disproved. If one can demonstrate that “God” acted in an unloving manner toward the object of His love, then this God is disproved. For example, God killing thousands of babies in a tsunami and sending them to hell does not seem loving to me.

    On the other hand, people sending money and aid to help the victims certainly seems loving.

    I guess I see what you are saying anna, but I must firmly disagree because for me, I would not question a person’s intentions in what they teach, I would question their assumptions.

    “As adults, you need to look objectivley and truthfully at both sides.”

    Absolutely agreed. Have you looked objectively at Christianity?

    For example, why would God tell Ezekiel that children should not be put to death for the sins of their fathers and then kill David’s baby for David’s sin with Bathsheba? Objectively, this God is a contradiction and is probably an invention. So then, as an adult, I at 24 have looked objectively at this and concluded it cannot be true.

    And arguing that we cannot “comprehend God” or that He is a “mystery” only makes it appear all the more that He is an invention.

    Why defend a contradictory concept with empty arguments?

  • 23. LeoPardus  |  March 5, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    Thanks for the sermon Anna. We like soooooo missed those. :(

  • 24. lauradee24  |  March 5, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    me, too! I threw away all my music after listening to that moron Bill Gothard. We are talking teenage girl silly stuff (that I am embarrassed to admit I owned, but not because it was evil).

    I remember a lot of those things you talked about being condemned, though not everything–Tolkien and Lewis were always okay. But we weren’t allowed to read any holy books outside the Protestant canonized Bible. I remember my mother making a HUGE HUGE fuss at the library when I was a kid because I had unknowingly checked out a book that was about a lesbian girl’s crush. She had never read it, only heard about it on Focus on the Family, but my usually nice, sweet, gentle mother grabbed the book out of my hand and told that librarian a thing or two!

    Ironically, my parents often condemned Jehovah’s Witnesses for not allowing any of their members read anything not Watchtower approved. Odd, the hypocrisy!

  • 25. SnugglyBuffalo  |  March 5, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    Hah, I remember my mom freaking out about D&D. According to some idiot book she read, Dungeon Masters almost universally will, knowingly, invite demons to possess them to give them more power in the game. It was the most laughably ridiculous thing I’ve ever read.

    Of course, my mom bought into it all. She even threatened to kick me out of the house while I was in High School for playing any roleplaying games.

    I continued to play roleplaying games, and just told my parents I was going to watch movies at my friend’s place.

  • 26. paleale  |  March 5, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    I threw away some good music myself, sad to say :-( But now I’m happily buying back a lot of the stuff I got rid of as an impressionable teenager. I just bought the first four Van Halen records on vinyl a couple of months ago :-) My parents never made me get rid of anything, thankfully. I just went to churches that were pretty zealous in their condemnation of anyone who listened to such filth as Huey Lewis or Chicago. Ironically, Hank Williams Jr. was permissible since God likes him some good ol’ country music. I remember someone trying to tell me that guitar distortion is from the devil because the devil takes what is true and distorts it. Seriously! Luckily I had the brains to dismiss it and lacked the tact to not laugh in the guy’s face. He never brought it up again.

  • 27. anna  |  March 9, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Joshua, keep thinking and keep being honest with what you observe as you go through life. Keep tearing everything down until you cannot tear it down any further…strip everything away …everything.. including God (your concept of God…and mine! I do not believe God is an idea… but we certainly have our ideas about Him)… . Someone said I sounded like another sermon… sorry… didn’t mean to. But many of the things you learned about that sound wrong and seem wrong to you now, may clarify themselves more for you in the future as long as you do not become closed and narrow minded like perhaps many of the well-meaning( and perhaps not so well meaning Christians) you have encountered so far. I say all this because this is the way I went about things for most of my life as an adult and I still continue to do this even though now I am a Christian… it hasn’t ended. It’s the kind of mind I have… I can’t help but think and question …and have doubts that I must face from time to time. I struggle… I don’t close it all off and just reject it because I have not been able to disprove it. Also, the difference with me, I guess is that I had what I would call a true conversion 13 years ago. I was not a Christian at all up until that time… but I was on a journey much like the one you seem to be on. It was avery long, hard journey of about 17 years. I did not lead a sheltered life whatsoever. I spent most of my adult life up until that time as a blues musician in the bars. I have seen a lot… maybe not as much as some, but believe me… alot. Ha Ha….. I experienced a lot during that time…. but my background is my own and has little to do with you except the fact that I kept on searching for meaning in life and conducted that search by being brutally honest with myself… which for me ended up in a total “born again” if you will pardon the expression, full blown conversion. No, I didn’t walk around giving everyone a sermon… sorry to that person who said I sound like one…. I just lived my life differently from that point on. I didn’t have to try very hard to do that… it came rather easy because I truely was changed on the inside. Totally changed…. which in turn changed my whole life. Anyway… I am happy to see someone else approaching life this way because I don’t think you can go wrong. If my kids do not know the Lord when they are grown, then I hope that they approach life this way. God bless you always. You seem to have a good mind… and it won’t let you down if you’re true to it. I don’t know if you will ever experience what I did and become a Christian… that’s not for me to know. I hope you do…. but in the mean time I hope you remain humble, honest and true throughout your life. God Bless.

  • 28. Eve's Apple  |  March 21, 2009 at 8:34 am

    Anna says, “I don’t believe it is a control issue . . . these are things that have no part in a Christian’s life . . . when I became a Christian these things were no longer attractive . . .”

    But it IS a control issue. It affects your relationships with the wider world. And if you are going to reach out and share your faith with the outer world, you need to understand that there are a lot of people who are baffled and repelled and frightened by the mindset you display. I grew up Catholic, which, while it has its own set of issues, was relatively free of the micromanaging I see among fundamentalist/evangelical Christians. If you are always barracading yourself and your family against perceived outside influences, I do not see how you can develop as a healthy human being. What a person reads, watches or listen to is his or her own choice. If it is truly not a control issue, then why bring religion up as the reason? Can’t a person make up their own mind? For example, I don’t have a TV but that is my personal choice, and religion has nothing whatsoever to do with it. I also realize that by not having a TV, it does somewhat limit my relationships with others simply because I don’t share that TV culture with them. Fortunately, there are other areas that I do share. But what I hear Christians like Anna saying, is that it is not just one area of life, it is ALL areas. And where does it stop? I am saying this because I used to be like Anna, and had it not been for my family’s intervention (which I bitterly resented at the time), God only knows where and what I would be today. Certainly not the productive citizen that I now am! Because withdrawing into the Lord did absolutely nothing about teaching me life or job skills.

    Which brings me to my main point. Not far from where I live there is a sizable Amish community. It may be that in the not-too-far-off post-petroleum future, people will come flocking to the Amish on advice on how to live; but right now, if Amish leaders were to try to tell Detroit how to build cars or power plants how to generate electricity, they would not be taken seriously. Why should they? Wisely, the Amish realize this and don’t make any attempt to influence the outside world. This is the price that they have paid for their self-imposed withdrawal–which, may I add, leaves them vulnerable because they have no real influence on the rest of us, the ones who pass the laws and make the decisions. Does evangelical/fundamentalist Christianity want to share the same fate?

    There was a bishop of a rather small denomination who spent his life’s energy trying to change his church. He’s mostly forgotten now. His sons, Wilbur and Orville, took a different path, and changed the course of transportation history. When I look around me, I see advances being made in science, in medicine, in architecture, in technology in general, all across the board. I work in the biotech industry and there are things out there the average person would not believe. But I can tell you who is NOT at the forefront of this amazing revolution. It is the evangelicals/fundies who are being LEFT BEHIND. They will not be the ones helping to solve the world’s many and urgent crises. They say the world is like the Titanic, it is sinking, so why bother. They are waiting for a rescue that may not come in time or may not come at all.

    In the end, everybody has to make their own choice . . .

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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