From Fundy to Orthodox to Apostate

July 17, 2008 at 11:59 pm 71 comments

My upbringing was entirely Protestant. My family were good Protestant “churchians” (people who go to church regularly “’cause that’s what good folk do”). The faith, such as it was, was just cultural really. I did know some real Christians (all Protestant) and I admired them, but I wasn’t one of them any more than the rest of my family was.

Somewhere around 14 or 15 years of age I realized that the religion I’d been brought up with was largely dead, worthless, and meaningless, so I stopped going to church. That lasted about four or five years. During that time my parents somehow started taking the faith more seriously. When I was 19 they asked me if I’d like to come along to church with them. They had a good reason. The preacher, they told me, was a very good speaker who made sense and was logical. Now a sensible, logical, interesting, skilled speaker in a church was a whole new concept to me. I just had to see it to believe it. So I went.

Sure enough, the man lived up to his reputation. In fact I was so interested that I went back a few times. Then my parents told me there was a youth group full of interesting, intelligent, lively guys and gals my age. So I went there too. And they lived up to their billing.

With time and study and being around Christians a lot, I began to learn about the faith and to grow in it and to like it. It wasn’t all smooth sailing. I went to bars more than a few times. During my first college semester away from home I stopped going to church or studying the Bible entirely. Then I got into another group of dynamic, growing, dedicated, young people. This new group helped me learn to study the Bible systematically and to develop a full theology that affected all of my life. In essence I learned then that the faith had to be practiced every day, not just Sunday.

Leap ahead several years. I’d been a dedicated evangelical/ fundamentalist/ non-denominational type Christian for many years. I’d marry a woman of similar stripe, and we were raising kids in the faith. But the wife and I had began to see the bankruptcy of the evy/fundy way. The process happened over at least 7 or 8 years and involved great amounts of study. Perhaps the single, best starting point was the book “Evangelical Is Not Enough” by Thomas Howard. Reading that book brought into focus all the problems we were trying to identify and qualify. Rather than virtually reproduce it here, I’d suggest you just read it. It’s actually a pretty short book. (A note that Howard ends the book as an Anglican but he went on soon afterward to become a very orthodox Catholic.) Some of the most notable things that chased us out of Protestantism were: shallow worship, the lack of standards or cohesiveness in the Church globally, the madhouse of interpretations, and to no small extent the widespread Calvinism amongst evy/fundy types.

Once we’d identified the problems with the evy/fundy Church – and by extension most of Protestantism – and started to grasp the significance of tradition and liturgy, we went to older, liturgical churches to learn more about liturgy first hand. It took us a bit over a year to really focus on the Eastern Orthodox Church (EOC). Frankly they just seemed too much like the Alien Mother Ship. But once we did go there and get to know the people, it was like finding the home we didn’t know existed.

The EOC has been growing a lot over the past couple decades. This stems from a lot of people learning that evy/fundyism really isn’t enough. Some other old, traditional, liturgical churches have also received a growth boost from that; notably the Catholics.

In case it’s of interest to anyone, here are just a few of the books that were significant in our path out of evy/fundyism. All are fairly short, and would give a good idea of what path we followed.

  • “Evangelical Is Not Enough” by Thomas Howard
  • “For the Life of the World” by Alexander Schmemmann
  • “Becoming Orthodox” by Peter Gilquist

We found our way to the Eastern Orthodox Church (EOC) because our study of history showed us that it was the church with the best claim to an historically consistent tie all the way back to the first century. We were also drawn because of its deep and ancient liturgical understanding.

All seemed well then. We loved the EOC and its services. And we loved the neat people in our parish. So what happened to make it all fall apart in less than 2 years? … Heck it was still going well as of the summer of 2006, so it really all fell apart in a lot less than 6 months. It was such a whirlwind that I actually find it hard to recall it all now.

As a result of diligent prayer having no impact on a lady in our church who was diagnosed with mental illness, I began an exercise to carefully sift through 25 years of praying. Not just my praying, but others’ praying too. And I realized that no prayer had ever been answered, in a clear, unmistakable way, so far as I was aware.

I also started to look at the lives of Christians compared to the rest of the world. Very few differences could be found between Christians and non-Christians.

In short, I couldn’t find anything to indicate any substantive reality behind the Faith. No changes in the lives of believers compared with non-believers, no miracles, no answers to prayer. Nothing.

Another core issue centered around God himself. When you look through the Bible, you don’t see God hiding. He’s quite visible in many ways. Pardon me then if I expected that the same God ought to be similarly visible today. But of course He isn’t.

In addition, since any descriptor of God is meaningless, we must worship, “We know not what.” How could I have any relationship to that which I could not even vaguely define? How could I believe in something that I could not even grasp at an elementary level? How could I sensibly embrace the nonsensical?

So I was facing a mountain of skepticism and evidence that I’d accumulated. Then came the critical question for me. Would I accept what I now saw as the truth, or would I push it away? I couldn’t push it away, so I was stuck. In an ironic twist, I found myself in a version of Martin Luther’s position: “Here I stand. I can do no other.”

Over a number of weeks I slowly let go of the Faith and could no longer believe. Fortunately, once I accepted this new life, it was fairly easy to build a life without an “invisible friend”. The future isn’t frightening and life goes on.

- LeoPardus

(written on September 22 2007)

Entry filed under: LeoPardus. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

Existentialism: The Search for Meaning Fundamentalism: An Existentialist Critique

71 Comments Add your own

  • 1. rover  |  July 18, 2008 at 6:47 am

    LeoPardus,

    Everyone alwasys says that there is no group that lives the Christian live. I often have that same idea, but I live near and sometimes among the Amish and I do see a difference in not only their external lifestyle, but also in the way the live and behave as a community.

    Question: (not a hostile challenge) Are you really unable to look back and find a prayer that was unique? That was answered in a “supernatural” way?

  • 2. LeoPardus  |  July 18, 2008 at 8:56 am

    rover:

    Are you really unable to look back and find a prayer that was unique? That was answered in a “supernatural” way?

    I can say with complete honesty, “No.”

    You’re right about the Amish living differently. I actually quite like them. Used to visit Shipshewana once or twice a year. Neat place. And I do admire the Amish in some ways, though I wouldn’t want to live as one long-term.

    Of course they are not unique in being different from the world. There are other religious communities that live very differently. Buddhist monks come to mind. So do Orthodox monks for that matter. (I’d love to visit Mt Athos someday.)

    So I must admit that my statement “Very few differences could be found between any group of Christians and any group of non-Christians.” is actually inaccurate. Certainly there are groups of non-Christians and of Christians that are different. If you’ll look at the article linked in that paragraph, I think it will explain better what I mean.

  • 3. ubi dubium  |  July 18, 2008 at 11:10 am

    Rover -
    Yes, the Amish are different in the way they behave as a community. But I think that it is because they have decided to do this, rather than because their god has made them that way. It’s a cultural difference, not a supernatural one. There are communes in the US where people live and behave as a community, in much the same way the Amish do, and they have simply chosen this lifestyle. Whether or not there is a god, human beings have the capacity to do this on their own.

    I think I would put it – There are no differences overall between christians and non-christians that cannot be attributed to culture. Christians, on average, simply do not live more virtuous lives. They don’t have a lower incidence of disease, accidents and natural disasters don’t avoid them, they don’t even produce fewer criminals than other religions. If god somehow looked on christians with special favor, you’d think you could find some physical evidence of this favor. But there is none.

  • 4. blueollie  |  July 18, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    Interesting. I was raised Catholic and didn’t really start to become an agnostic/atheist until I was midway though graduate school (27-28 years old?)

    But I never expected “miracles”; I thought that God was there to help you get though life without harming others. As an adult, I never thought of God as something that would perform miracles. Yes, I knew what the Bible said but I figured it was written by superstitious, ignorant people.

    Finally, I just stopped coming to church as I ceased to believe the stuff I was reciting.

    I never cared much that Christians acted pretty much the way that other groups did; to me how virtuous a group was in no way reflected on the truthfulness of their religious myths. That is, followers of Thor being good will not convince me that Thor exists.

  • 5. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 18, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Blueollie, maybe this view doesn’t exist in Catholicism, but I know I frequently heard about how much better off Christians are than non-believers.

  • 6. digitaldame  |  July 18, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    Don’t be too quick to over-romanticize or canonize the Amish. Here’s a disturbing article:

    http://www.legalaffairs.org/issues/January-February-2005/feature_labi_janfeb05.msp

    Too many groups use their religiosity to hide behind. Extreme outward displays of piety aren’t really any indicator of much of anything.

    Leo, I had the same sort of epiphany as you when you said:

    “When you look through the Bible, you don’t see God hiding. He’s quite visible in many ways. Pardon me then if I expected that the same God ought to be similarly visible today.”>

    I used to wonder why God had been AWOL for the last 2000 years. I could never find a way to reconcile it. I have beliefs now, but they have nothing to do with any of the Abrahamic religions.

  • 7. Joe  |  July 18, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    Over a number of weeks I slowly let go of the Faith and could no longer believe. Fortunately, once I accepted this new life, it was fairly easy to build a life without an “invisible friend”. The future isn’t frightening and life goes on.

    My son made an interesting comment to me the other night, and I wanted to ask you about it. I mentioned some of the animated discussions I get into with people on the board, and how you state there is no God, etc. He asks something interesting–he said “If they REALLY (for emphasis–some people hate CAPS here) don’t believe in God any more, why do they stay on that blog—are they still trying to prove it to themselves? I don’t believe in Santa Claus, but I don’t have to create or go to a “former Santa Claus Believer” site and talk about why Santa doesn’t exist—there is no need to because I KNOW Santa doesn’t exist.

    So Leo, when you say “the future isn’t frightening, and life goes on”–why don’t you really move on? I seriously mean this as a question—truly—-why not just move on as though God “doesn’t exist”? Why do you feel the need to talk about your deconversion, and talk about why God no longer exists?
    Do you come here to “reinforce” your convictions? Once you no longer believe in something you talk about it less and less, not more and more right? I almost never talk about Santa Claus—accept near Christmas time to kids—-but you and many others seem to talk about God more now than when you actually believed in him.

    I truly mean this as a question—-not an attack, or an insult—-a real question. My question: Why would a large part of your life be involved in talking and writing about someone/something you say you don’t believe in?

    I truly will accept you answer for what it is.

  • 8. Quester  |  July 18, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    Another core issue centered around God himself. When you look through the Bible, you don’t see God hiding. He’s quite visible in many ways. Pardon me then if I expected that the same God ought to be similarly visible today. But of course He isn’t.

    Check me on this, but doesn’t the Bible portray God revealing God’s self to only a few people per generation?

  • 9. LeoPardus  |  July 18, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Quester:

    doesn’t the Bible portray God revealing God’s self to only a few people per generation?

    I’d have to disagree with you on that.

    The Bible has God doing a mass of miracles all over Egypt. That was a lot of people.

    He did beaucoup some biggies for Abraham.

    There was his wiping out of Senacharib’s army.

    Elijah did miracles all over the place.

    Bunches of miralces are listed around Israel during David’s time.

    Jesus was doing big ones all over the place.

    The apostles did lots of them in many cities.

    That’s just a partial listing that pops to the front of my mind.

  • 10. ubi dubium  |  July 18, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    Well, Joe, I’ll give you mine

    I truly mean this as a question—-not an attack, or an insult—-a real question. My question: Why would a large part of your life be involved in talking and writing about someone/something you say you don’t believe in?

    1. Mutual Support: Atheists and other deconverts are much demonized in our society (at least in the US they are.) Since we tend not to be well organized, it helps to have each other to lean on. I’m raising two heathen daughters, and I often find insight here on how to help them deal with the preaching and put-downs that often come from their peers.

    2. Help for the deconverting. Most of us went through a period of questioning religion. I want to reach out to those who are struggling with questions now – to let them know it’s OK to question, and to give them a chance to talk with those who reached different conclusions than their church tells them they should. Whether they de-convert or not, it’s good for them to talk to us.

    3. Improving our image. I hear it over and over again – “Atheists are evil”, “Atheists hate our country”, “Atheists are just angry at god”. Joe, when you originally came here, I don’t know what you were expecting to find, but I hope you have a different opinion of us now. We’re just people, like everybody else. This isn’t a nest of vipers, here.

    4. I still have questions I want answers to. Not of the “does god exist?” type. I am interested in how religions get started, and what is it about human nature that allows religion to have such a hold on people.

    5. I like interesting conversation.

  • 11. Joe  |  July 18, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Ubi—

    Thanks—I can see the issue of support for sure. I was being sincere when I asked, because I really had that question in my mind—-if you really stop believing in something you would talk about it and think about it less and less. I saw Victoria Jackson, who used to be on Saturday Night Live, and she had a Ukelele and was singing this song where she said basically— I am paraphrasing the lyrics:

    She says she won’t believe in God
    Because she says he isn’t there
    BUT SHE TALKS ABOUT IT ALL DAY LONG!

    The song goes on ending with that last sentence after each lyric—-it is very funny. I think she sings it because a lot of people do ask why atheists talk on and on about how God doesn’t exist, almost as if they are trying to reinforce that fact in their minds over and over to assuage the doubts.

    But thanks for explaining—-I could understand it is a difficult process, and you need support, and want to support others—that makes sense. And just engaging in interesting conversation is a good reason too. Thanks.

  • 12. ubi dubium  |  July 18, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    Joe:

    —-if you really stop believing in something you would talk about it and think about it less and less.

    For a long time that was indeed the case for me. I just didn’t think about it. Not for years. What brought me back to thinking about it was my kids. For the sake of cultural literacy, they need to be familiar with all the better-known bible stories. (As well as Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Norse mythology) Their understanding of literature will suffer if they aren’t. And as they get older, they are running into the children of Fundies, who are desperate to convert them. So we now spend quite a bit of time talking about the subject.

  • 13. John Morales  |  July 18, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    LeoPardus, I find it nice to read stories such as yours, because for me they reaffirm what it is to be human.

    Thanks.

  • 14. John Morales  |  July 18, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    Joe, if you stopped believing in mysoginism but still see it all around you, you might find a reason to talk about it.

  • 15. John Morales  |  July 18, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    Misogynism.

  • 16. Cthulhu  |  July 18, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    Joe,

    He asks something interesting–he said “If they REALLY (for emphasis–some people hate CAPS here) don’t believe in God any more, why do they stay on that blog—are they still trying to prove it to themselves? I don’t believe in Santa Claus, but I don’t have to create or go to a “former Santa Claus Believer” site and talk about why Santa doesn’t exist—there is no need to because I KNOW Santa doesn’t exist.

    Ubi hit it on the head I think. Going through a complete change in the way you view and interact with the world can be a painful process. My most painful thing I experienced was how to tell my family. Fortunately for me, I married a truly wonderful lady and if anything our marriage is the stronger for my honesty. I think that most of teh contributors here wish to be a resource for people who are experiencing the same process they went through and are motivated by a desire to let those people know that they are not alone.

    Cheers…

  • 17. Cthulhu  |  July 18, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    ubi dubium,

    I’m raising two heathen daughters, and I often find insight here on how to help them deal with the preaching and put-downs that often come from their peers.

    Isn’t that a shame. If people now were to express the same bigotry towards a different racial group than their own nobody would hesitate to point out said bigotry. But atheists are pretty the most reviled group in the US. And some of the latest polling data suggests that Americans claiming to be secular are the second largest ‘group’ in the US at around 30 million.

    Leopardus – thanks for posting your story.

    Cheers…

  • 18. LeoPardus  |  July 18, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Cthulhu:

    Fortunately for me, I married a truly wonderful lady and if anything our marriage is the stronger for my honesty.

    Me too. She was not happy when I told her, but she’s seen that I haven’t grown horns and a pointy tail. She’s definitely not even a little bit open to thinking about leaving the faith herself, but she’s made her peace with me being out of it. So we are doing well.

  • 19. Cthulhu  |  July 18, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    Leopardus,

    That is good to hear! We are a couple of lucky guys in my humble opinion. My wife still loves me for who I am – not a particular set of beliefs I might hold. Well – if I were to mention polygamy I might get a very different response!!!

  • 20. John Morales  |  July 18, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    For what it’s worth, my wife is a church-going Catholic, as are my mother and my mother-in-law and two of my sisters, and we all get along fine; dare I say it, I feel loved.

    Strangely enough, the subject of belief and religion is not an issue for us and hardly ever comes up.

    What surprises me is that some express surprise that a blog titled as this one is contains the discussions it does.

  • 21. LeoPardus  |  July 18, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    if I were to mention polygamy I might get a very different response!!!

    Yeah, I haven’t been able to find just the right approach to that one either. Let me know if you do eh? :D

  • 22. Cthulhu  |  July 18, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    Leopardus,

    Yeah, I haven’t been able to find just the right approach to that one either. Let me know if you do eh?

    I am not sure I would survive intact :-)

  • 23. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 19, 2008 at 1:28 am

    But atheists are pretty the most reviled group in the US.

    *sigh* I think that’s pretty good evidence that none of us choose atheism because we think it will be all sunshine and cupcakes. I don’t want to be part of the most reviled group in the U.S., but I gotta be true to myself.

    I’m really glad I made this change before getting married, now I just need to find a girl who doesn’t mind marrying an atheist.

  • 24. John Morales  |  July 19, 2008 at 1:37 am

    SnugglyBuff, given your sentiment I suggest you don’t spend resources chasing those girls who care more about what someone believes than about who they are or what they do.

  • 25. The Apostate  |  July 19, 2008 at 2:56 am

    Snuggly,

    now I just need to find a girl who doesn’t mind marrying an atheist.

    Move to Canada… or Europe.

  • 26. blueollie  |  July 19, 2008 at 6:15 am

    Reply to Joe: I come here for the following reasons:

    1. To see other people’s stories; I find it interesting to compare the experiences of others to mine.

    2. To give support. To be honest, I don’t have it hard as I have a doctorate in mathematics and most math/science researchers are atheist or agnostic. That isn’t the case in other professions and/or subcultures.

    A better question is “why are you here?”

  • 27. LorMarie  |  July 19, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    As a result of diligent prayer having no impact on a lady in our church who was diagnosed with metal illness, I began an exercise to carefully sift through 25 years of praying. Not just my praying, but others’ praying too. And I realized that no prayer had ever been answered, in a clear, unmistakable way, so far as I was aware.–LeoPardus

    I wrote about something somewhat similar although it focuses on pentecostals and charismatics: http://lormarie.com/2008/07/19/are-you-sure-god-spoke-to-you/

    I think it is the hardest thing of all to look around and not see the “evidence” claimed about prayer. In spite of how much some well meaning Christians will try to explain it away, the bible does make some pretty strong declarations about prayer and the supposed result. What do you do when you only see evidence to the contrary? Simply walk away…for your own peace of mind.

  • 28. Cthulhu  |  July 19, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    SnugglyBuffalo,

    I’m really glad I made this change before getting married, now I just need to find a girl who doesn’t mind marrying an atheist.

    Hang in there – I did not meet the love of my life until I was 29 years old. And do be picky – you are investing the rest of your life in a relationship (or your supposed to!) when you get married. I have been married for 18 years now and couldn’t be happier. And I would advise being completely open about your atheism. It doesn’t have to be on overriding topic – but be honest about it. That will save you much time and potential heartbreak. Good luck to you young man – I hope you meet someone you can share your life with.

    Cheers…

  • 29. Brandon  |  August 11, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    I don’t think certain locations in Egypt or the middle east is sufficient to say miracles happened all over the place. That is like if a miracle happens in San Diego California, Austin Texas, and Seattle Washington and then say it happened all over the place in the US. The miracles or revelations whether they occurred or not did not only happened in specific areas that really don’t count as all over, unless you count Noah’s flood. I doubt the people that resided in what we know as Japan really heard much about JC’s Death when it happened, this is assuming of course these people actually existed in the bible. I just think it is an overstatement to say this miracles occurred everywhere. I think that whatever miracles occurred then is comparable to the amount of “miracles” claimed today.

  • 30. Kuksha  |  August 30, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Your story is bogus.

    Had you actually converted to Orthodoxy you would have known about the uncreated light which Orthodox Christians are called to behold, which is the proof of God every Christian is called to see.

    Likewise, not just in ancient times, but also in the modern lives of the saints there is proof and testimony of prayers being answered. Had you actually converted you would have read these lives and accounts.

    As it is you claim you never heard of a prayer answered and that no one offered proof of God – both complete lies, for the Orthodox Faith offers these items.

    Had you actually been an Orthodox Christian and not writing this piece in order to attack religion and Christianity for your presumably atheistic idealism, you would know these realities.

    It is a shame you fight against something you do not know and have not experienced.

    And again, fighting against a God you do not believe exists shows something about your mental status..

    Through the prayer of His Most Pure Mother may Our Lord Jesus Christ bless you.

  • 31. Obi  |  August 30, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    *sigh*

    Kuksha –

    If I could direct your attention over to the articles on the sidebar marked by a large, red exclamation mark. Read both of those articles, and please take care in the future not to make the mistake of engaging in the fallacy of equivocation called the No true Scotsman that you just now took part in. If you have the words “true” and “Christian” (or anything else for that matter) together in a sentence, think about what you’re saying, because something is most likely wrong, as it so definitely is in your above post.

  • 32. The Apostate  |  August 30, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    kuksha hilariously says,

    And again, fighting against a God you do not believe exists shows something about your mental status..

    How about thinking that humans ever “fight” an immortal, omnipotent Being? How about the lack of integrity to engage in a respectable conversation? How about the inability to distinguish between peacefully, although often passionately, disagreeing with an idea and belief system and waging a verbal assault against a being that doesn’t exist? Kuksha, I think your mental status is probably quite competent, but we would appreciate it if you could take the time and address others, who are obviously not as intelligent and mentally capable as you are, with some respect.

    Sometimes I think Nietzsche would be so proud of where Christianity has gone.

  • 33. LeoPardus  |  August 30, 2008 at 11:30 pm

    *Sigh* Another drive by Christian troll. Not even worth responding to.

    In the spirit of Monty Python, I shall fart in his general direction.

  • 34. Kuksha  |  September 13, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    Um, no, his story is bogus. That much would be obvious to any Orthodox Christian.

  • 35. LeoPardus  |  September 13, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    OK, Kushka. If you can manage not to drive away too fast this time, how about something other than a drive by.

    What do you mean by bogus? As I look at what you said, I have questions. Do you have the decency to respond, or are you what we all take you for: just another angry, bad-tempered, judgmental, self-aggrandizing, religious troll?
    “Had you actually converted to Orthodoxy you would have known about the uncreated light which Orthodox Christians are called to behold, which is the proof of God every Christian is called to see.”

    Yes. I know about it. Do you know about the burning in the bosom which Mormons are called to feel as proof of the verity of their faith? Are you aware of the baptism of the Holy Spirit which Pentecostals and some others are called to receive as proof that God dwells in them?

    not just in ancient times, but also in the modern lives of the saints there is proof and testimony of prayers being answered.

    No there is not. There are stories. You can find those in every religion. Hearsay is not evidence.

    Had you actually converted you would have read these lives and accounts.

    Saints Cyprian, Abba Joseph, John Climacus, John Cassian, Father Arseny, to name just a few. I read quite a lot. You see, I truly believed I had fount “it”, the true faith. Just like we sing after communion each Sunday, I really believed, “We have seen the true light, we have received the Heavenly Spirit, we have found the true faith, for He has saved us.” I read, I absorbed, I thrilled.

    As it is you claim you never heard of a prayer answered and that no one offered proof of God – both complete lies, for the Orthodox Faith offers these items.

    Hey look man. If you can get some priest, abbot, layman, whatever from Orthodoxy to provide me with just one clear miracle, visitation, revelation, etc, I will go to confession immediately. Even if I received a life-long penance, I would be happy to be back in the faith.

    Had you actually been an Orthodox Christian and not writing this piece in order to attack religion and Christianity for your presumably atheistic idealism, you would know these realities.

    Were you actually an Orthodox Christian, and not writing this vitriol in order to attack someone you don’t even know for your presumably Christian ideals, you might have known of something called ‘agapē’.

    It is a shame you fight against something you do not know and have not experienced.

    It is a shame that you attack someone you know naught of, and whose experiences you have not shared or even tried to understand.

    And again, fighting against a God you do not believe exists shows something about your mental status.

    Popping into forums to attack it’s members with vitriolic hatred in the name of a faith and a God of love shows something of your moral value.

  • 36. Kuksha  |  September 28, 2008 at 1:44 am

    Sure, have you been to SF to see the relics of St. John Maximovitch? He died in the 1960′s, and without the aid of preservation materials common today, his body has yet to decay. I have seen this for myself.

    Also, there is an icon of the Mother of God which I think is going to make it’s way back to Hawaii. This icon streams drops of myrrh, without human assistance. This is common in Orthodoxy. This icon came to our church not too long ago.

    http://www.orthodoxhawaii.org/icons.html

    You see, you claim there is no proof, only hearsay, yet the modern Orthodox world is full of such grace – there are more myrrh streaming icons in existence besides the Hawaii one, even icons that let out blood, as well as incorrupt (non-decayed) relics of saints, such as St. Alexander of Svir who died several hundred years ago, or St. Savvas of Palestine who died over a thousand years ago…there are clairvoyant elder who can read your heart (I have met 4 and can attest to their holiness), the holy fire every pascha (Orthodox Easter) in Jerusalem that does not burn even if you stick it on your flesh, and so much more.

    The uncreated light has nothing to do with feeling, it is a literal light, like an object, that is seen. There is a man at my church who has seen it around Elder Ephraim of Arizona, and he is not alone in seeing this, nor is the Elder alone in radiating this (even in America).

    It is not as simple of a matter as you want to make it out to be. If you wanted to see if Orthodoxy was true, you could and would have sought all this out, which has been known for decades in America, and available for centuries.

    But you did not seek any of this out. That is because you were not interested in finding the truth. That is because you never converted. That is because you may never had set foot in an Orthodox Church more than once or twice in your life after reading a couple of books that would give you a good idea of what to write.

    So what you said you said truly: you attended church as a youth and read a couple of books on Orthodoxy. But if your claim that you became Orthodox is true, this means that even in your/our day, the miraclous relics, artifacts, and saintly men that are known to the Orthodox world to be available were rejected by you without the slightest attempt to seek them out. So either you did not “truly convert”, which is rare in Orthodoxy and usually found among the mentally ill (I mean no offense), or you never cared about Orthodoxy to begin with except as a source of information for more attempts at deconverting others.

    But now you know about them where you did not know about them before.

    Your mission, should you choose to accept, is to see it all for yourself. We Orthodox Christians do, and know what we worship.

    By the way, your comments about “what kind of love is this that you are showing” is all a show. I know it, you know it, but may you find the way to Christ regardless.

  • 37. LeoPardus  |  September 28, 2008 at 7:54 am

    Kuksha:

    You must really love yourself baby. Sure no one else does.

    You got so much wrong in this last post of yours it’s hard to even think about where to start. I must conclude that you didn’t even read the article at the top.

    Tell you what unloved troll-boy. You read the article at the top, then go through your last post (#36) and point out errors you made that you wouldn’t have made if you’d paid any attention. Then you can apologize for pretending to be a Christian (of any denomination), and for being a troll. Then we can have communication.

    Or, and this is what you will do, (because i know you better than you know yourself….. there, how does it feel to be on the receiving end of that arrogance Orthodox pretender?) you’ll come back in a month and post more ignorance, then go on with your unloved, unlovely, pathetic pretense to a life.

    Go ahead troll-boy, prove me right again……..

  • 38. Kuksha  |  September 29, 2008 at 7:57 am

    Instead of arguing over whether or not what you wrote is a lie (it is), why don’t you just go and verify what I have written?

    You may think that logic and rational thought is how a person should conduct themselves, yet you are more interested in protecting yourself than discovering truth.

    Go check it all out. Prove it to yourself one way or another. Do not let the words, “not entering in heaven and preventing anyone who would,” apply in this situation.

    God bless you.

  • 39. LeoPardus  |  September 29, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    Thank you troll-boy for doing exactly the sort of thing I knew you would.

    Your knowledge of Orthodoxy could have made this discussion interesting. Instead you choose to make wrong assumptions, display great arrogance, (The EOC and Bible, that you pay lip service to, both say something about that. Not that a troll would care.) make unfounded judgments (The EOC and Bible, that you pay lip service to, also both say something about that. Again, not that a troll would care.)

    If you ever decide to try being a Christian (a real one of any denomination) or if you just decide to try joining the human race, let us know.

    If you develop any semblance of humility (another trait recommended by the EOC and Bible), you could try the approach of humiliating yourself with apologies in sackcloth and ashes. But you lack the wherewithal to do that. You’re not a Christian (Orthodox or otherwise). You’re only an arrogant troll.

    Did you know I’m a prophet? I prophecy that you will abuse the letter “a” by:
    -Responding with anger, arrogance, attack, asininity
    -Not responding with apology, abasement, agape

    Feel free to post anything you like now. Prove me right again.

    BTW I am under no obligation to respond to you with “Christian” traits. You on the other hand are directly commanded by your faith, your Bible, your deity, and your church to “turn the other cheek”, “return evil with good”, “not be quarrelsome”, “instruct with gentleness”, …… oh you’d like to hear from a Father eh?
    How about the most holy, St. John Climacus?
    “When you hear that your neighbor or friend has abused you behind your back or even to your face, then show love and praise him.”

    I could go on, but everyone except you gets the point by now.

  • 40. Kuksha  |  September 30, 2008 at 1:16 am

    Wonderful! You also did exactly what I thought you would. You chose to respond but not actually be willing to see it all for yourself. Furthermore, you did not address the issue(s) raised except by insults, which shows even you have a sense of decency to not push a lie further than needed. You have potential…

    But I am done with this. You are welcome to verify the relics, icons, people, and all miraculous things mentioned, to see them with your own eyes, to handle them, to meet the living saints…but this will require some strength of character to not only admit your error, but also to want to know the truth.

    “All who love the truth hear my voice,” Jesus said. Are you truly a philosopher then? Are you willing to do what it takes to find wisdom more than just reading a few books and talking to people in chat rooms? Can you make an effort to find the truth, to sacrifice yourself and your comfort for it? If you are not, then get rid of all your mirrors, for you will never be able to look at yourself again, nor should you want to. You claim rationalism and love of truth, yet do not want to make any effort to obtain it.

    I am not angry with you, nor am I angry at all. I hope you are able to come to terms with yourself. I hope the best for you, not only salvation but also peace and happiness in this life. It is just not going to happen by beating your conscience into silence…I will not apologize for you are the one perpetuating the lie, and blaming me for your inability to be real and admit your mistake…

    God bless!

  • 41. Digital Dame  |  September 30, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    I wonder what Kuksha thinks of the statues of Hindu deities in India that drink milk? Christianity is not the only religion that claims miracles.

    He’ll be back, give him a minute. ;)

  • 42. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 30, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Reading the article Kuksha linked, there was mention of annointing icons (though the icons had not been annointed recently, apparently).

    I wonder if there wasn’t already a layer of myrrh dried onto those icons, and the humidity and temperature were just right that water condensed on the icon and mixed with myrrh.

    It really doesn’t seem that miraculous for an icon that might have been annointed with myrrh to start forming droplets of myrrh on it at times.

  • 43. LeoPardus  |  September 30, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Well I went and looked up the “incorruptible” St John Maximovitch. The beauty of the web is that when some idiotic, gullible robot like Kuksha makes his silly claims, it’s quick and easy to check up on.

    So here are some photos you can view:
    First off, here is a photo of Fr. Maximovitch right after death:

    http://www.orthodoxphotos.com/Holy_Relics/St._John_Maximovitch/1.shtml

    Now here is his “incorruptible body” as it looked after they dug it up:

    http://www.orthodoxphotos.com/Holy_Relics/St._John_Maximovitch/6.shtml

    And here is a close up of his “incorruptible” hands:

    http://www.orthodoxphotos.com/Holy_Relics/St._John_Maximovitch/5.shtml

  • 44. Digital Dame  |  September 30, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Ewwww, I was just about to have lunch…

  • 45. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 30, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Ah, but Leo, he only looks decayed; it’s God testing your faith. If you had faith, you would realize that his body hasn’t really decayed, in spite of appearances.

  • 46. Cooper  |  September 30, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Ewwww, I was just about to have lunch…

    Finger sandwiches?

  • 47. LeoPardus  |  September 30, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Take a look at some of the other pictures at that site. These people see mummies and think they have incorruptible saints relics. Sheesh!

  • 48. LeoPardus  |  September 30, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Noted this balls up a while ago, but just getting around to calling it out.

    From Kuksha troll post 30:
    “Had you actually converted to Orthodoxy you would have known about the uncreated light which Orthodox Christians are called to behold, which is the proof of God every Christian is called to see.”

    And from post 36:
    ” it is a literal light, like an object, that is seen. There is a man at my church who has seen it around Elder Ephraim of Arizona, and he is not alone in seeing this, nor is the Elder alone in radiating this (even in America).”

    So every Christian is supposed to see it, but Kuksha apparently hasn’t. But he knows one guy who claims he’s seen it. Hmmmm…. once again the conclusion is obvious… Kuksha isn’t a real Orthodox. :) or he just can’t keep track of what the hell he’s taking about.

  • 49. LeoPardus  |  September 30, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Sure, have you been to SF to see the relics of St. John Maximovitch? He died in the 1960’s, and without the aid of preservation materials common today, his body has yet to decay. I have seen this for myself.

    Whee! I just posted the pics of that. Veeerrrryy convincing. :(

    there is an icon of the Mother of God which I think is going to make it’s way back to Hawaii. This icon streams drops of myrrh, without human assistance. This is common in Orthodoxy.

    Had one of those sorts come through here too. The Vladimir Mother of God if I recall rightly.It was supposed to be a miracle-working icon. No miracles, no nothing. Just a lot of dupes crowding round to look at a painting on wood. As you say, “this is common in Orthodoxy”. :(

    there are more myrrh streaming icons in existence besides the Hawaii one, even icons that let out blood,

    There are similar statues, paintings, and buildings in other religions too. Of course, upon careful investigation they are found to be frauds or have natural explanations.

    as well as incorrupt (non-decayed) relics of saints,

    Oh boy. Mummies. I’ve seen ‘em. They’re mummies.

    such as St. Alexander of Svir who died several hundred years ago, or St. Savvas of Palestine who died over a thousand years ago

    Uh huh. Where are they now?

    there are clairvoyant elder who can read your heart (I have met 4 and can attest to their holiness)

    Well your gullibility is pretty well established. That and your inability to distinguish wish fulfillment or confirmation bias.

    the holy fire every pascha (Orthodox Easter) in Jerusalem that does not burn even if you stick it on your flesh,

    Ah yes. A guy comes out of a dark tomb and claims “Hey this fire just lit up by itself!” and I’m gonna believe him, when he won’t let anyone else in to confirm it. As for the non-burning part, that’s been tested. People move their arms through it quickly. Try holding their hand in the flame for a while and see how miraculous it is. It’s been done you know. Folks got burned.

    You see all this stuff depends on your desire for it to be true and on your gullibility.

    Take a look at the work of Derren Brown if you want to see what can happen to gullible people.

  • 50. Kuksha  |  October 2, 2008 at 1:03 am

    No, no one has been burned. The clairvoyant elders did not predict the future. St. Alexander’s relics are in Russia right now, and St. Savva’s are in the middle east right now. St. John’s relics are genuine, not mummified, and not decayed after 40 years. I have seen his relics in person. I know a number of people who have seen the uncreated light.

    But, you are proving my point that you never became Orthodox. After all, why are you just now looking at St. John’s relics for the first time? Why is it you never learned what a clairvoyant elder is, or how this gift manifests?

    No, of course it is easier to defend your lie than to admit the truth for the sake of truth. And, once again, you would rather defend yourself than to verify these things for yourself. Why do you not go to Jerusalem this Pascha? Why do you not save up a little bit of money and visit St. Alexander, or St. Savva, or let’s say St. Spyridon in Corfu? Go to Hawaii and see the icon for yourself?

    No, it is easier to defend your lie than to actually be a lover of truth. It is easier for you to be an armchair philosopher, and internet scholar, than to make any effort to find truth. It is easier to dismiss from the comfort of google searches than to put yourself in front of reality. I doubt you try to see it for yourself. Much easier for you, and you can still trick yourself into being right without any proof that you are right. Amazing…

    God bless.

  • 51. SnugglyBuffalo  |  October 2, 2008 at 2:49 am

    Seems like an appropriate time to link this T-shirt.

  • 52. Ubi Dubium  |  October 2, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Kuksha
    You are really missing our point here. You have come to a website full of people from various ultra-religious backgrounds. They were raised in churches that proclaimed “We have the Truth!” and “Ooooh look, Miracles!” and “You will have a warm fuzzy feeling inside if you just put aside rational thought and belieeeve!” At some point, each of us took a good hard look and decided that the church did not have a lock on “truth”, that a warm fuzzy feeling was not evidence of reality, and that the miracles never stood up to scrutiny. We decided to work things out for ourselves, instead of blindly following. And for many of us, we found that all religion is a bunch of wishful thinking and confirmation bias. Santa Claus for grown-ups.

    Now you show up here with “But I have the Real Truth!”, and “Ooooh look, Different Miracles” and “You will have a warm fuzzy feeling inside if you just put aside rational thought and belieeeve!” And then, when we start to investigate one of your claimed “miracles” we find a mummy. Nothing special. A bunch of people who have had the courage to overcome years of indoctrination are not going to be swayed by more of the same, no matter how sincere you are. So believe in the Orthodox Church if you like, I don’t care. But you will not find any converts here.

    Now if you want to discuss something else, besides how we should all convert to your religion, please hang around. But if all you are doing here is evangelizing, then go elsewhere.

  • [...] There is something weird, though. How many of those craving for a miracle (such as “Hey look man. If you can get some priest, abbot, layman, whatever from Orthodoxy to provide m…) will actually believe when faced with a miracle? Puzzingly few, I think. At least for me, the [...]

  • 54. Kuksha  |  October 18, 2008 at 4:55 am

    Sorry for the delay. I’ve been away from the internet, spending some time transcending my ego…

    That was a joke, by the way…

    I did not initially post to convert anyone. It is wrong for this article – which is a complete fabrication – to have been written. All that I have written so far has been for the purpose of pointing out the fabrication. Unfortunately the author refuses to admit his error.

  • 55. Lucian  |  December 15, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    No changes in the lives of believers compared with non-believers, etc …

    Well, … if You want to know Orthodoxy better, then reading the books You’ve already read is just fine, I guess, … but if You want to know the Orthodox better, then watching Zorba the Greek would be recommended. :-) And no, I’m not gonna renounce the fulfilment of my sweet, sinful desires just to give You some hope in life and God and stuff: find Yourself another self-sacrificing sucker who might actually care enough for You (and for his own salvation) to actually do that. :-|

  • 56. LeoPardus  |  December 15, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    Lucian:

    I did not understand what you were saying between the smiley faces. Can you explain?

    BTW, do I gather that you are Romanian Orthodox?

  • 57. LeoPardus  |  December 15, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    Oh, wait a minute. I think I got it.

    You aren’t willing to become a saint just so I will believe. Right?

    OK. I got it now.

    That’s just fine. You enjoy your “sins” and I’ll enjoy mine. We’ll both leave the self-sacrificing, sanctimonious suckers to their prayer ropes, shall we?

  • 58. Lucian  |  December 15, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Atta boy, Leo, I knew You’ld understand. :D — And You didn’t even need a Romanian-English dictionary to do that, see? ;-)

  • 59. LeoPardus  |  December 15, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    You didn’t even need a Romanian-English dictionary

    I could probably get by with Latin. Agnosas?

  • 60. Lucian  |  December 15, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    Agnosas?

    F*** You too, man! :-) You callin’ me names here, white-boy!? ;-) — Which is to say: No, You may probably not get by with Latin, Sir. :D

  • 61. LeoPardus  |  December 15, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    Ah. I figured it was easier than trying to make any headway at all in Romanian.

  • 62. Lucian  |  December 15, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    So … I see atheism has become an excuse for laziness now, huh? :-| Well, if the Jews were Judaizers, the Greeks Hellenizers, the Russians Slavophiles, and the Americans export Democracy even by the most un-democratic of all means possible such as bombing the livin` $hit out of one’s contry and imposing liberty by force, then I think I’m entitled to a bit of navel-gazing, self-patting Romanian-centrism, … don’t You agree? 8)

  • 63. Anonymous  |  September 16, 2009 at 1:23 am

    Just happened on this site and this old discussion. What amazes me about it is that I too was a protestant who joined the EOC which joined the Antiochean Archdiocese of North America. I moved and joined the OCA and finally looking for a deeper taste of Orthodox tradition I joined an Old Calender Russian Orhtodox church of “true believers” very traditional and strict and very full of rules and miraculous icons and saints and relics and feast days and many, many, hours of vigil, fasting and long services lasting 5 hours or more on consecutive days. I was completely into it and almost clergy several times in my career. Something kept me back from that (thankfully) and I remained a layman . I raised my family in this enviroment and we home-schooled them, all 7 of them.

    My children are adults now and I am a grandfather. I have experienced everything christianity can offer in the way of spiritual enlightenment and known many wise old and very virtuous monks and priests and bishops and even metropolitans. I have experienced answers to prayer that can only be called little miracles and yet I feel I have been fooling myself. I am ready to give it all up because I undertook to unravel the evolution/creationist debate for myself and really look at the issues and understand the arguments as objectively as I could.
    Well, the result is that I am now convicted that science and reason has established that the bible is unreliable history and
    that evolution tells us more about ourselves than we can learn from all the “holy fathers” whose writings I am so used to relying on and mentally sifting all I read and hear through their teaching.For more than 30 years I have been intensly focused on experiencing grace and seeking the true faith and the true church. I feel like an ignoramus presently and owe my children an apology and all the many people i dragged into it through force of argument and personal conviction expressed with every bit of persuasion I could conjure and deliver.
    Now I have to face up to the facts and help my loved ones adjust to my new take on things I once championed so passionately.

  • 64. Quester  |  September 16, 2009 at 1:38 am

    Welcome and well met. Let us know if we can help.

  • 65. LeoPardus  |  September 16, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Anon:

    Well, HI there. You would be only the third person, including myself, who has gone from Protestant to Orthodox to atheist/agnostic.

    I am a bit surprised that you find the cre/evol issue to be pivotal in your de-conversion. The EOC holds no dogmatic position on it. They are perfectly fine with evolution and consider science to be the realm of scientists, not theologians.

    Still, if you find your way out of the lies that compose theistic religion, that’s a good thing.

    Hope your family and friends do OK with it all.

    One note: Don’t know if this is an issue with you yet, or if it will become one, but be on guard against becoming embittered now that you’re seeing all the wasted years in the faith. I know I’ve felt the pull that way.

  • 66. Anonymous  |  September 18, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Actually I am not embittered at all and I don’t feel the years are wasted. Christianity was exciting and challenging to me, it woke me up and gave me something outside myself to focus on. I was a callow selfish youth with almost no hope of “getting a life” I was stuck in a ghetto of drugs, drinking, partying, I was going nowhere before I converted and when I did see the light suddenly I had purpose and fire in my belly about something bigger than I was.The intellectual challenge was to figure out which branch of Christianity was most reliable and that discussion lasted years fueling research and much heated discussion, tension and excitement, never boring really. through it all I managed to stay married and faithful to my wife and raise a family, get a college degree etc. None of that would have happened I feel without the matrix of religion holding me together. It was just the last part of my life here where I became disillusioned with the politics and people in my church. I was at the same time researching apologetics related to evolution/creationism where I found creationist defenders like Kent Hovind who are not entirely honest and misrepresent facts shamelessly . Here I finally realized evolution may well be truth and if so then the “fall” of man was myth and explained nothing and because so much orthodox spirituality refers to the “fall” as the basis of our personal struggles that it became clear that what I believed was all built on a fairy tale and unreliable. I had essentially given up reading “the fathers” quite recently, just because they were not useful in my personal growth. Never had I looked critically at the bible as a truth source and I started thinking about my conversion experience and how it happened. In hindsight I was converted in a flash of mental activity while reading genesis at age 21. I suddenly had this very clear thought that the universe was created and not just an accident and that someone was in control of what we called life and that this person had a plan and that it was accessible to us through this book. God the Father was real and so if he was real then maybe all the stuff I had heard about his son jesus was too etc. etc. Well now I realize this was all accepted uncritically and at a moment of weakness in my life where I had hit a wall and was stuck psychologically without any idea of what to do with myself. I walked around in a haze for days marveling at this new paradigm. My brain changed, it woke up I was alive and thinking like never before, it was very much like falling in love, same kind of chemistry I think. I was caught in a web which I never wanted to leave I was intoxicated. No one around me was any help, I was pulled in deeper and deeper until my whole life was interwoven into the cult of Jesus and I was a true believer, very earnest, intense and unrelenting in my desire to go deeper in and higher up. The only miracle is that I did not become a clergyman of some sort. I have converted others I started two churches that are still going strong and have been a parish council member of others I followed the trail of the most fervent Orthodoxy all the way to Mt. Athos. I feel there isn’t anything real there. It is llike waking up from an intense dream or alternate reality. Where do I go from here? Besides hell that is…

  • 67. Anonymous  |  September 18, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    Just to clarify, I left the EOC and moved into the more traditionalist Old Calender Orthodox church. Believe me they do not think evolution is an option, I confessed my thoughts about evolution to my bishop who said I had no right to question the bible or the “Holy Fathers” who are, for those unfamiliar with orthodoxy, the great saints and theologians of the past.the truth is that without the “Fall” to explain sin and mortality, Christianity fails to explain why Christ needed to die on the cross. Without the” fall” the entire thing becomes incoherent. Keep believing if you want to but be honest, it is a psychological need your trying to satisfy despite the lack of evidence to justify it. Old calendar traditionalist Orthodoxy is historic Christianity in action today and it does not accept the modern sciences explanation of evolution. Who would be willing to die for their faith these days when we know there is no solid evidence to support our faith and much that contradicts its claims?

  • 68. Anonymous  |  September 25, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    I am reading an interesting book, How Jesus Became A Christian by Barrie Wilson. His premise is that Apostle Paul invented a new religion which used Jesus and the Torah as a historical foundation but which is distinctly and radically original. The original Jesus movement in Jerusalem was headed by James, brother of Jesus and followed rather strict obedience to the Torah laws. While believing in the ressurection they did not believe in the incarnation. Paul never met Jesus himself and believed the Law of the Torah was a curse and unnecessary for those who had faith in christ. The epistles of Paul written before the gospels reveal his thoughts while the Gospel of Mathew (leaving out the bits about the virgin birth) especially chapters 5,6,7 reveal that Jesus advocated a super righteous fullfiling of the Torah in spirit as well as letter. The original Jesus Movement led by James coexisted with mainstream Judaism in the temple at Jerusalem for 30 years however Paul’s Christ Movement in the diaspora was a source of confusion and dissension. The two teachings are incompatible and caused a lot dissension among the synagogues. The martyrdom of James in 63 a.d. and later the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jews in 70 a.d. weakened the Jesus Movement, the publication, at this time, of a false history called The Book Of Acts, which brilliantly weaves a story reconciling Paul’s religion with the Jesus Movement and clouds the actual history of the very creative religion building exercise by its inventor Paul, ultimately provides the perfect cover up that persists to this day. The printing arrangement of the New testament with the four gospels then the book of Acts and then the epistles of Paul and finally the other epistles strengthens the sense that Paul’s teaching was given in the context of the historical Jesus. The truth is that his hearers had no gospels to evaluate and were relying on his gospel as a true explanation of Jesus’s teachings. Fact is they are incompatible if you examine the epistle to the Galatians and the aforesaid chapters of Mathew. Further Paul’s own description of his conversion and subsequent withdrawal to the desert without speaking to anyone conflict with the story told in Acts about going to be baptised etc. It is well known Paul had conflict with Peter, it is the writers contention that the first apostolic council purportedly held in Jerusalem is fabricated in Acts as part of the deception.
    I am quite familiar with the bible and I find the writers thesis plausible and very interesting giving rise to a lot of further investigation. I really can enjoy studying these matters because I feel like I can look at the issues objectively, I don’t have a position to defend, I can enjoy a clear and well expressed argument and weigh the evidence against what I know and think without a lot of emotion or need to defend a particular creed.
    Many scholars who are not really christians at all, spend their lives enjoying a close examination of the bible as literature and mythology and as a historical religious artifact much the same way Shakespearian scholars examine his work in such detail and endless speculation.

  • 69. Anonymous  |  September 25, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    I am interested to have you site the examples you mentioned in Galations and Matt.

    You make statements that are pure conjecture, amazing.

  • 70. Anonymous  |  September 4, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    “No one has seen God at any time, but if we love one another, God abides in us…” – 1 John 4:12

    I really think issues of religion ultimately aren’t about what is “reasonable”, and I’m not sure reason is a good guide to spiritual matters. Orthodoxy, like many eastern religions, is more about intuition than analysis.

    Christians behaving no different from others really doesn’t discredite Christianity… didn’t Jesus warn people about this? Perhaps you focused too much on “institutional religion” and not enough on the real religion; St. Paul says “Whatever harms you, do not do to others” is the whole of the Torah, and St. James says the religion that is pleasing to God is to care for orphans and widows in distress. To give of yourself, to be egoless, is the real salvation. The rest is theater.

  • 71. LeoPardus  |  September 4, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    Reason isn’t a good guide to spiritual matters eh? So in other words, “Check your brain at the door when it comes to religion.” Don’t use that organ that separates you from apes and lower animals. Be a lower life form. Be an irrational animal. Use “intuition”, “feelings”, “wild ass guesses”, “make it up as you go”, “emotions”, anything but your brain. That way when someone questions you, you can just start a holy war against them. What a great idea you have there anonymous!
    And Christians behaving like assholes does discredit Christianity. See James, “by my deeds you will see my faith”, or read Jesus, “by this the world will know you are my disciples, that you have love for one another”, or II Corinthians, “we are his ambassadors, as though God was making his appeal though us”. Or you could read the Orthodox Church Fathers who in many places speak of the indispensability of living a holy life.
    And then you speak of real religion; that exactly what I was looking for. And you know what? I found it everywhere. Not just in the church, but in the lives and in the organizations of people who were utterly outside any religion. And within the Church I found it mostly lacking. So you know what? I took the words of St Paul to heart in I Corinthians 5 where he said that we are to judge those inside the church. I judged them and found them utterly wanting.
    And I judged their puerile deity and found it utterly deplorable and ugly and vicious beyond all comprehension. How I or any decent being could stand to defend or worship such a monster beggars me.
    Oh since you’re a fan of Paul, do you like women keeping shut in church and only asking any questions of their husbands later at home? (I Cor 14:34,35 “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.”)

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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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