This post will hopefully be short. I have not written much in a while but recently have been solving what I believe to be a direct result of strong religious influence: drama.
It has occurred to me that fundamentalist beliefs are a direct precursor to drama. All those sayings about “keeping alert” and never letting yourself be lulled to spiritual slumber brought me, on more than one occassion, to wonder why is nothing spiritual happening? And then, in my own way, I would begin seeking out signs of drama occurring to confirm to myself that something spiritual was happening.
And then you have pastor’s making overarching statements like “if you have not been involved in leading someone to the Lord or witnessing recently then you should check your spiritual life out to make sure you are not becoming spiritually lazy” or the apostle Paul saying drama dripping statements like “if you want to be godly you will be persecuted” (paraphrased). The obvious implication is that if you are not being persecuted you are not being godly enough. Therefore: seek drama!
From doing some reading on the internet I’ve come to realize that drama is a natural human reaction to boredom. This makes some sense when one considers that concept of a small-town gossip, but it makes even more sense to me when considering all the drama in churches back home where everyone is looking for signs of spiritual activity of some sort. Everyone wanted a stable, united church but everyone also wanted spiritual warfare to be visible in their lives so they did not feel spiritually lazy.
The end result? Drama.
Fast forward to today: I have come to realize that the drama in my life (just read some of my old posts) has lingered until today. I find myself almost subconsciously double-checking my emotions and if I do not “feel right” its almost like I get a little rush from it. It takes me back to all the times I thought that Satan was involved in a situation when in reality someone (maybe me) was just being an ass or someone was just in a bad mood. It was almost like my belief that everything was right was fueled by feeling that something was wrong. Because, after all, if you felt a dark spiritual presence attacking you that must mean you are right with the Lord. Or you are wrong with the Lord. In any case, it was a little fuel for the spiritual fire. And going from those dark, black moods to a realization that they are actually a sign that everything is good is the ultimate rush. I’ll dub it spiritual bipolarism.
We grew up learning about the spiritual “greats”: Spurgeon, C.S. Lewis, Edwards, etc. The one thing I do remember reading, though, is that all of these men – in their own way – suffered from deep depression for large periods of their life.
Could it be that the “spiritual depression” and drama are a direct result of the underlying concept that seeing drama is the ultimate way to confirm to yourself you are in a spiritual battle and thus succeeding spiritually?
Just a thought :)
Religious people often make the case that people like being atheists, agnostic, or just non-believing because then they can “do whatever they want”. The idea is simple: if there is no god, there is no one watching you when you are alone and therefore there are no consequences as long as you can get away with something. In other words, atheists can turn a blind eye to their own actions.
The last couple of years I have watched in utter astonishment as “True Christian” after “True Christian” have on the one hand turned their eye to corruption around them and on the other self-righteously and tirelessly stood up for their favorite principles. It seems as if turning the blind eye is completely subjective and is not limited to the atheists. It is a human problem.
Along with this observation, I have had another question floating around in the back of my mind: why is it that some of us leave and some stay Christian? How is it that tiny details can drive one person to leave their faith while others can simply ignore them completely and act as if they are honestly no big deal?
For example, it may bother a good Christian woman endlessly to hear a swear word or be in the company of someone who is drinking alcohol but when it comes to sending troops to die in Iraq for what might be a trumped-up war… she can honestly act like it is not her problem and that they are serving the Lord by giving their lives up. A person can whine about a little wine and praise Jesus over a dead relative in battle?
For secularists things like this bother us enormously. We feel a sense that overwhelming injustice is being done by our fellow humans.Vote for a Christian Republican who supports creationism and refuses to even read the evidence for evolution? Be against abortion even in the case of rape? Teach the Bible is inerrant when there are so many “obvious” errors? Support Palin?
Wow, my titles are getting more depressing though I think my content is more hopeful. This post should not be an exception – I hope.
The more I’ve been thinking about dealing with the arrogance versus humility issue, the more it has pried open an issue which, ironically for me, has become somewhat tautological. Suppression.
I’m pretty sure that every person deals with this on a daily basis, but I’m also pretty sure that conservative Christians are masters of exacerbating it. In fact, I was heavily on my way to becoming a guru when it came to suppressing everything I felt and wanted. And here is how I have been setting myself free.
For the most part I’ve identified two major areas of suppression in my own life: physical and emotional. Intellectually I suppressed some things – like how I considered evolution to be beautiful and immediately thought it was the devil speaking to me. But for the most part, I did not feel like the intellectual side of my mind was hindered too much by the Christianity with which I grew up. And if my intellect was suppressed, I feel that I have sufficiently dealt with that. Many of you may notice the change in tone of my posts – that I used to be much more analytical. So that leaves me with physical and emotional suppression.
Physical suppression revealed itself most strongly in sexuality. I remember distinctly being terrified of my first sexual thoughts. In my early arrogant Christian days – at around the age of 9 – I remember looking up to the teenagers around me in disgust. Who are these apes, gallivanting about all stupid and shit? I won’t be like them. I’m a good Christian. I’ll never look at porn. I’ll never commit adultery. I will never have sex before marriage. I had not yet learned that only the arrogant say “I would never”…
The topic of humility versus arrogance has been – for the longest time – a major blocker in my own thinking as I am sure it has been for others. I remember wrestling with this issue for years as far back as when I was thirteen or fourteen. At that time I would hear others talk about it and try to sort out what it means and how to achieve it.
As I remember, the struggle went something like this. I had been told multiple things about humility – and as with all Christian doctrine – I noticed through recurring headaches that there were strong contradictions in what I was taught.
One of those major contradictions was the impossibility of pursuing ones ability to be humble if a humble person does not think about their humility. A lot of people told me not to think about being humble, but I knew I was commanded to be humble. This, naturally, made me introspect to figure out whether I was. Then I would remember that a person who is humble cannot know it. But how am I supposed to pursue humility if I cannot think about it?
Naturally I wanted to resolve this contradiction. I mean, if it hurt my head that much surely resolving it would help others, right?
But there was a problem. The Bible. The Bible was the problem. First of all, the Bible never said that a humble person does not recognize his humility. In some places it implies the opposite. If you believe Moses wrote Deuteronomy, then you have to believe that a humble man can honestly – and in humility – write that he is the most humble man on earth. Noticing this, I began to garner a general distrust for Christian memes, since it seemed like people were ultimately pulling their end ideas out of their ass and these normally contradicted the Bible in some way…
Hello everyone, I’m back – if not only for a short time – to discuss something that has been bothering me for the last month or two and with a small discovery I hope will be helpful to others still dealing with the traumatic reprogramming necessary to leave the church you once loved.
It has come to my attention recently that I am an extremely self-deprecating person. When people compliment me, I find it difficult to just casually accept their compliment without either having a completely inflated ego as if starving for attention or wanting to dismiss their genuinely kind words as unnecessary flattery. In other words, I don’t really like to think about myself except in a negative light and as a result of the lack of confidence I tend to rebound the other direction on occasion in full-on arrogance.
Now, I’m sure a decent number of people struggle with this and perhaps you are one of them. What I’ve realized recently is that the Christianity I grew up with almost encouraged this type of thinking. And here is how…
[Note: this is a difficult and heavy post. If you are enjoying your Easter, please don't read until tomorrow. Happy Easter everyone!]
Today I woke up and was pretty happy. The birds were churping, we have a full house between my roommates and their parents coming to visit, I just finished a massive requirement for a project yesterday that consumed roughly 115-120 hours in the last two weeks, and I’m just excited to be alive.
While for the most part I have moved on from the religious ‘discussion’ (and have not posted here in a while) I found myself this morning anxious, apprehensive, and conflicted. Religious holidays tend to do this to me now – although it is getting better.
I’m in Chicago – miles away from the friends and family that I grew up with and I miss them. I miss the Easter dinners, the good times we had, and the sunshine and kickball. But I don’t miss Jesus, I don’t miss church, and I don’t miss the beliefs that I once cherished.
Since leaving, I have come to realize that the beliefs of fundamentalist Christians are sadistic. The other day it occurred to me once again that they believe that I am a wretched sinner in need of Jesus and unless I accept Him I am going to hell. They praise the person who created this hell and then blame me wholly for going there. My confession on this Easter is that I don’t know how to emotionally and mentally deal with being friend with people who believe this. I’ve never known how to mentally grasp the concept of an eternity in hell. And yet to the fundamentalist Christian all the joy of Easter rests solely on their being delivered from that awful invented place…
A while ago, when I was reading up on the atheist / theist debate, I remember coming across multiple instances where an atheist would say:
“God is a non-answer.”
As a Christian I remember going “what? That’s a clever ruse. Just say it isn’t an answer and dismiss it off-hand?” I honestly thought it was a stupid, clever trick to dismiss God.
But then I’ve been thinking about it. “God did everything” or “God allowed everything” or “God made everything” or “God is everywhere” or “God designed everything” or “God has every answer” or “God knows” are not very useful statements. They are just as useful as “Satan is the source of all lies” or “sin is the source of all suffering” or “government corruption is caused by greed”. For, if we were to honestly apply those answers in our daily lives, they would get us no where…