Time Is on My Side

December 28, 2007 at 11:59 pm 16 comments

sun-dial.jpgI spent some time with some “old friends” today that reminded me of the distance I’ve traveled this year away from organized religion …

This couple were the “senior” (head) pastor and his wife at the church where we spent 10 years working. She was one of those “super Christians” (at least in her mind). However, the reality of it all is she typified all the things I have learned to loath about religious people. She always had “all the answers,” and anything that deviated from her set theology was wrong. She could tell you how to live, while her own life was crumbling unnoticed around her. She pursued “ministry” based on her desire to have acceptance and really could not wrap her mind around love at all.

Saying all this, I’ve learned to pity this woman. Circumstances have moved this couple far away from our lives, but today we attended a funeral of a mutual family member/friend. It was good to see her and her family, but sadly, nothing has changed for her.

That’s the problem with religion. Things stagnate, because that’s the only way they can be controlled. Theologies become calcified, and they become fodder for liturgies. So many Christians talk about “relationship,” but in reality, if they were forced into choosing “pure” relationship — surrounded by things unknown or mystical — or the dogmatic belief in the structure, they would choose the controlled dogma. Because to be honest, that’s what they understand.

I know this is judgmental, and there are exceptions, sure. However, the truth of the matter is organized religion will never be able to accomplish its stated purpose because it is a mechanical, power-driven system that has forgotten its original purpose. And yeah, I’m lumping all “religion” together. But you know what? They tend to make sweeping, judgmental decisions about those of us “on the outside,” so I guess a turnabout is to be expected.

I’m saying all this to say that spending time with this woman of my past again re-focused me on my journey. The reality is I don’t want to be the blind follower of a power-inebriated organization anymore. I’m a true believer in a “relationship” — be it vertical or horizontal (and all my atheist friends smile and sigh at me again! ) . And I’m finding that time is on my side as I move toward discovery, toward knowledge and understanding, and toward being the person I believe God intended me to be.

Happy New Year!

- lostgirlfound

Entry filed under: lostgirlfound. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

I weep for the children who are victimized by their spiritual leaders Public Prayer and Implications of Agreement

16 Comments Add your own

  • 1. salymander  |  December 29, 2007 at 5:24 am

    I know what you mean. My mother just came to visit and she’s a fundamentalist christian, of the seventh day adventist persuasion. I don’t like to get into discussion/arguments with her, she is my mom. But this evening she wanted to mute an “icky” commercial about people who communicate with spirits because its “satanic”. I muted it, cause I don’t care. But I responded with, you know they’re just actors. And she’s like, “no they’re real, just like that satanic Chris Angel Mind Freak”…………..sure mom. Chris Angel is real just like Santa.

    After living away from my mom for almost a year I got used to my own environment away from her. It’s what happens. You get away from something and you sort of purify yourself and forget how bad it was in the past. I was just having this discussion with another ex-adventist friend. Its like when you work at a perfume counter. After a while you don’t smell the perfume anymore. But anyone who walks by the counter is blown away by the wall of scent. But if I leave and my nose is given a chance to rest, then when I come back to the counter I’m blown away just like everyone else who walks by. And realize that it’s been that strong the whole time.

  • 2. oakenthief  |  December 29, 2007 at 7:53 am

    It’s kind of interesting…a close friend who recently moved away from me to Ontario has, unfortunately, been getting more religious (Catholic) than when we hung out more consistently. We had been drifting apart I think partly because of work schedules, but partly because of my atheism and leftist politics. She is a good person, but sadly, she’s an ‘easy beleif-ist’–challenges to meditate on her (prolific, buried) doubts really upset her so she avoids them. Our other shared friends are almost all atheists or agnostics…

    Does this ‘new environment’ principle work toward strengthening one’s belief as well as weakening it? I suppose it could work that way on any belief system…I sure miss her!

  • 3. tobeme  |  December 29, 2007 at 10:40 am

    What you described can happen to anyone, religious or not. Many people take a postion and get stuck in that postion and everything that deviates from that position becomes wrong or something to pity in others. Religious people do not have a corner on this way of thinking or should I say not thinking, not being open.

  • 4. lostgirlfound  |  December 29, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    Saly … you said: “You get away from something and you sort of purify yourself and forget how bad it was in the past. I was just having this discussion with another ex-adventist friend. Its like when you work at a perfume counter. After a while you don’t smell the perfume anymore. But anyone who walks by the counter is blown away by the wall of scent. But if I leave and my nose is given a chance to rest, then when I come back to the counter I’m blown away just like everyone else who walks by. And realize that it’s been that strong the whole time.”

    What awesome insight — and a good picture for someone like me who’s stuck in the visual plain.

    Oak, do you think your friend’s deep dive into religion reflects her loneliness from leaving her group of friends? Sometimes, we need something to hold onto. Religion provides a ready-made community (even though it’s often false windowdressing), and maybe that’s what’s drawn her?

    One more .. Tobe, you’re right. Religious people don’t have a corner on the stuck in the mud thinking. Unfortunately, they have the “god” default … it’s not “them,” it’s what god said. Which usually, isn’t the case at all, according to their own Bible.

    Thanks for your input, guys!

  • 5. LeoPardus  |  December 29, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    Yeppers. People get into religion and remain the same people they were before. No change. Often a change for the worse. ‘Tis one of my big reasons for tossing it all in the waste basket.

    At least now I can mostly just ignore the religious talk. Kinda like I can just let little kids talk about Santa and not feel like I *must* straighten them out. It’s just amusing.

  • 6. oakenthief  |  December 29, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    lostgirlfound, I sort of feel that the change was a sigh of relief for her. Our shared atheist friends have very strong opinions–she is fairly apolitical and has done some amazing acrobatics with the OT, the concept of hell, priest sex scandals, science, etc. to keep her faith. During one of our short lived debates, she even evaded the charge that one must accept Christ to go to heaven to avoid admitting I was doomed to hell no matter what I did! I was appalled when she admitted that while studying microbiology for nursing, she felt like she was over stepping her bounds as a human and challenging God! Keeping quiet about such nostalgia for ignorance frustrates me even though I love her, and this made her uncomfortable.

    She is marrying another Catholic Pole and I feel that she can finally ‘be herself’ now that shes not around us.

    Was I a bad friend by challenging her beliefs? Leopardus, it is hard for me to ignore religious talk sometimes–I wonder if t is makes me an arrogant or overbearing person…

    We can still have coffee and laugh until we cry, fortunately.

  • 7. LeoPardus  |  December 29, 2007 at 8:01 pm

    okenthief:

    it is hard for me to ignore religious talk sometimes–I wonder if t is makes me an arrogant or overbearing person…

    Yeah. Sometimes it is hard to ignore. You might be overbearing or arrogant about it, but the fact that you’re at least asking if you are is a good sign. And if you’re keeping the relationship strong enough for coffee and laughs, you can’t be going too far wrong.

  • 8. the deacon  |  December 29, 2007 at 8:25 pm

    One of the problems within religion is the group think dynamic. Individuals may have questions and concerns at various points but are fearful to express them. When they look around to see others accepting the teachings they become concerned about being the odd person out and being viewed as less of a Christian for expressing doubts.

  • 9. locomotivebreath1901  |  December 30, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    “Saying all this, I’ve learned to pity this woman.”

    God bless you.

    Lessons learned……

  • 10. bry0000000  |  December 31, 2007 at 4:57 am

    “So many Christians talk about “relationship,” but in reality, if they were forced into choosing “pure” relationship — surrounded by things unknown or mystical — or the dogmatic belief in the structure, they would choose the controlled dogma.”

    That epitomized the way I felt at the end of my life as a Christian. Favorite part of the post. I would argue this occurs because the relationship is extremely one sided, but that’s just my atheist tendency.

    Have a great new year!

  • 11. karen  |  December 31, 2007 at 8:21 pm

    She was one of those “super Christians” (at least in her mind). However, the reality of it all is she typified all the things I have learned to loath about religious people. She always had “all the answers,” and anything that deviated from her set theology was wrong. She could tell you how to live, while her own life was crumbling unnoticed around her. She pursued “ministry” based on her desire to have acceptance and really could not wrap her mind around love at all.

    I have a friend just like this. She’s the “perfect Christian” but she’s blatantly racist and a very stingy person.

    The last time we got together the talk turned to Mormons. Her comment: “Too bad they don’t have fire insurance.” I didn’t get it at first, but then I realized she was gloating over the fact that she believes they will all roast in hell forever.

    It really made me realize how cruel and unfeeling even some of the the “best Christians” are.

  • 12. Jersey  |  January 1, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    Karen: I go to a church that some who know my Sensei and his wife think they are not “pure enough” Christian and I get the scolding if I stand up for them or say to give them a break, because no one “wiser” is teaching them the truth. (They believe in the Rapture and his wife is a music minister, which my love thinks is not Biblical.)

    Deacon:I am the oddball out. People are always telling me I was fed the “wrong form” of Christianity (I grew up in a church of the Methodist tradition, now I go to a Church of Christ.) I question things, and people either try a weak defense or flatly state not to think about such-and-such as since the Bible doesn’t mention it, we shouldn’t think about it. Balogna.

  • 13. Mary Windsor  |  January 4, 2008 at 5:00 am

    I was a life time believer, bought up in an evangelical environment, then 25 years ago I started asking questions, these questions made my christian friends very uneasy and I was accused of a lack of faith among other things. Nevertheless I carried on my search, I went through all sorts of belief systems, following them for a time and then dismissing them as rubbish. To the chargin of some around me I even dismissed the exsistence of all spiritual beings, good and evil, angels and a spiritiual hierachy.You may think this left me with nothing to believe in, but I do feel we are all endowed with spiritual gifts and a spiritual memory, without being to complicated, we can, be and do anything we want, we just have to draw on the Universal energy, call It God if you like. A diamond has many facets but it is still one stone. We are all a part of everything that ever was, is or will be. Thats why mediums know stuff. They think they are talking to dead people, but I feel they are just remembering something that was once a part of them, but they just believe it is something different! Even the theory of reincarnation goes up in smoke if you look at it in the simplistic way that I do! So heresy of heresy, I am god even as we are all god. Remember the bible says, “Know ye not that ye are gods”

  • 14. LeoPardus  |  January 4, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    MaryWindsor:

    I went through all sorts of belief systems, following them for a time and then dismissing them as rubbish.

    So why did you stop doing that and settle on your current rubbish?

    To wit: we can, be and do anything we want, we just have to draw on the Universal energy, …We are all a part of everything that ever was, is or will be…. I am god even as we are all god.

    Thats why mediums know stuff.

    Rubbish. Mediums are frauds. It’s been demonstrated time and again. The best among them do what illusionists call ‘cold readings’ of people. Good illusionists do the same thing as mediums.

    Again, why did you start off analyzing things and dismissing rubbish, just to end up settling on rubbish?

  • 15. Monte  |  January 10, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    How long did you talk to each other? In the conversation you had with this woman/couple, did you actually get sufficient information to tell if nothing has changed with her? Maybe nothing has changed–I obviously don’t knokw–but is there any chance that you are jumping to conclusions?

    Did you see the recent book from Mother Theresa? Religious people have big changes in their spiritual lives. I have been doing counseling for 40 years and I can tell you that there are lots of changes that go on with clergy professionals, although they may not share those changes with everyone they know. In that way they are not that much different from anyone else. Do you explain all of your thoughts and feelings to everyone you know, or are there some things you choose to keep private, at least for a time?

    As you admitted in your posting, you were being judgmental. Isn’t that something you don’t like about organized religion and religious people?

  • 16. lostgirlfound  |  January 10, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    Definately! And it’s something I constantly work on. I guess instead of saying “they haven’t changed,” I should have said, “It seemed to me they were stagnate, still dealing with the same issues over and over again.” I guess that, if God is who they say he is … if Jesus came so that they could be “new creations,” and they could “turn from their ways of sinning,” shouldn’t there be some viable evidence of this? Or, do people simply say, “Well, I’m human. I just can’t change.” Isn’t that so contradictory? It’s one of those things I really struggle with … Christians who claim the “power of God” but are still the same … except now judgmental and reeking with some type of righteous superiority.
    I’m not saying to be perfect … God knows (as well as my family and friends) I’m the furthest thing from. But I do change. I grow — I mature. The things that use to tear me a part, and cause me to explode in rage don’t do that to me anymore. The judgmental attitude toward “them” (whomever them might be at the time) has been replaced with grace … and often love. Yeah, except for self-righteous, all knowing Christians. And like I started to say, I’m working on that, too.

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