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You are a bad kid

Why can't you be more like your brother Jesus!

In psychology we began learning about the effects of childhood guilt, which unchecked later turns into shame. This was spoken in the context of abusive family situations, and led into a long discussion on dysfunction.

I came to find that I suffer from these symptoms of guilt, but I was not “abused”: we just called it being Christian.

It can rightly be said that as a person believes themselves to be – so the are (or act). If you believe youself to be fat, no matter how thin you get you see yourself as fat. If you think you are loser, you tend to behave as one. If you believe yourself to be bad – you tend to behave that way.

Self-image tends to dictate all, and is a demon that is very hard to fight. For those who come from physically or mentally abusive situations there is this deep-seeded twisted sense of self that must be broken with a new sense of truth. This truth however becomes very hard to know or fully realize since it is in direct opposition to years of conditioning.

Now I was not beaten, and I was not abandoned. Nobody neglected me, or poked me with hot sticks. However, I realize that I have a very poor self-image: for I think that deep down I am bad, evil, sinful, and worthy of hell. This was the gift of my Christian upbringing, and as I think therefore I am.

As a child I was taught to believe that I was born a sinner, that I was born fundamentally flawed, displeasing to God, and that I was only capable of selfish acts of destruction. From the tender and impressionable age of 5 and upwards this fact was breathed into my soul by my loving parents, my pastor, youth workers, and a Christian school system. In church every sunday, youth group, home, and in our Christian media I was bombarded with the knowledge of my regret for being born as myself.

There was nothing that I could do that was ever right or good. Nothing would ever be good enough to please these people, or my God. I am detestable, and utterly sinful. In fact, even if I somehow manage to do something good – it is really not me doing it, but it is God doing it through me: for I am only capable of evil.

In fact, the pinnacle of this religion is to be as little like myself as possible (since I am evil), and to try to “be” someone else (Christ) who is good. To the degree to which I am not like myself (or dead my self) and am more like another person (Christ) is the very degree to which I am pleasing God, others, can be “happy”, and am to measure myself.

Abuse and dysfunction also relates to kids who were abused by being told they had to be more like their “good” sister or brother. If God is the father, and we are all Christ’s sisters and brothers – then imagine the level of dysfunction we have here.

Recently there was a lot in the news about a couple who named their son Hitler. He was later taken from them by Social Services. However, I think I can one-up them on that one:

I remember vividly a youth group retreat where the youth pastor spoke a very moving sermon to us all on Hitler and other evil men: killers, rapists, child molesters, gays, and um… cannibals. We were told that inside us was the very same evil just waiting to come out. That the only thing stopping it was Jesus, and that without Jesus in our lives we were destined to only hurt other people and ourselves. Quick, run to the altar and repent for being born: detest yourself, embrace the guilt, let the shame we give you control you and bind you to this religion.

It bound me so much that I actually believed it. I have been bound by this religion for so long due to this shame, guilt, and the fear of what would happen if I were to simply be myself (since my self is sin). In fact, I was initiated in this religion at such a young age that I can not think of a moment where I did not have this sense of fear and shame. It controls me, and keeps me in line or bondage to this religion.

Where is the Christian Socal Services to take this poor child away from this youth group? Where is the support group that I may attend as yet another Recovering Christian?

I tried a couple times to break free from it and just be a good person on my own, but I eventually did make some mistakes. It is impossible not to: who do you think I am Jesus? Then, immediately the voice kicks in: “See, you are evil and you are hurting others and yourself. You are a sinner, you are sinning, and you need to come back to the fold”. We hang our heads in shame and do one of two things: we either crawl back to an altar and repent, or we go off and hurt ourselves in self-hate or punishment.

I realized finally that I am not ready to enjoy the freedom of leaving Christianity until I can get over the guilt, shame, and negative self-image that it instilled in me. As long as I believe myself to be bad I am under its control, and I am also more-likely to self-destruct or behave poorly. Simply put, if I think I am going to leave and then be sinful then I most likely will do that (think therefore I am) and I just fall into the trap of self-fulfilling prophecy. Once this happens I am going to only “prove” to myself that I am bad and that I can not exist and be a moral human outside of the guidance of the Church.

As stated earlier self-image tends to dictate all, and this false sense of self can sometimes be the result of years of conditioning. Even if you “know” the truth in your mind it is not real knowledge until it makes its way into your belief system and actions. You very well may “know” now that you are not a looser, but until that knowledge becomes more than just a fact you are sill going to behave as one. That fact needs to break through the conditioning.

So what happens now? What is the first step?

Take a deep breath, and consider the following 5 things:

  1. You were not born evil
  2. It’s OK to be you
  3. You are capable of doing good without a God
  4. In fact there may not be a God
  5. But if there is one He probably likes you just as you are, and I bet He gets a kick out of you

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For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

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Jesus Dating AgainSo, Jesus and I finally broke up.

I really thought that things were going to be different this time. He said that he changed… loosened up a little, stopped all his bad habits, said he was nothing like his dad.

I broke it off, and now I am going through all that crazy movie-like post-break-up nonsense.

I went through that moment of feeling empowered, like I can break out on my own and be single, or maybe even start seeing other people again. You know, get back into that religion dating pool. I am pretty sure that Vishnu was eyeing me up the other day pretty hard in the grocery store, and Buddha did slip me his number last month. He’d actually be kind of cute if he lost a bit of weight.

Then all the sudden out of nowhere I got all crazy and started listening to sad emo music, watching bad romantic comedies alone in the dark while eating a tubs of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and I can’t seem to get out of my sweatpants!

Am I better off alone? Is he going to call? Is he even thinking of me? Am I getting fat?

And oh my God! What are my parents going to do when they find out? They loved him! Heck, they were the ones who set us up in the first place. They are going to flip. Oh man, and all of our friends are mutual friends – so how are they going to treat me? We even all hung out in the same places. It’s like I am going to be a total social outcast now.

Losing your religion can be quite a depressing event. I mean, I got “saved” at the age of 5. I can not look back to any time in my life when my religion was not there with me. The earliest memory I have – it is already there… like it or not. I actually have no sense of being or identity apart from it, and no idea as to what life was like without it.

I feel like my dog died. Sure he was a crappy dog, even a bit of a jerk at times, but he was still my dog. He bit me, ruined my stuff, hated and attacked all of my friends, and pooped all over my carpet; Yet, he was still my pet, and although it was a crappy relationship –  at least it was company of some sort.

This also makes me think of people who stay in bad or even abusive relationships. Why do we? Because it beats being alone, or because this bad relationship is the only one they ever knew? Or maybe we do it because the evil of this relationship we know to be tolerable, and that is less intimidating than what unknown evil may be out there.

I just don’t know if I should take some time to be alone, some “me time”, or if I am really ready to start seeing other gods again. From what I hear they are all are just after the same thing anway. Pfft… men!

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For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

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DionysusSurprisingly enough the title of this post was not something that I said today, but instead it was from a fellow bible school student that I had lunch with. He is a good student, he loves God, and he is a youth leader in his local church. He runs a home-group, and the current youth pastor is phasing out and this guy is stepping in as the new leader soon.

So here I am feeling bad because I have all these doubts, and I come to find out that just about all of us have them. Heck our pastors and professors have them.

We were eating lunch and started talking about things we are learning (we take different classes) and he started talking about things he is learning in his Old Testament class. He said that his professor was going over the book of Genesis (creation story) and mentioned that it really was just a myth and should not be taken literally at all. The Professor then pointed out that the story of Genesis is basically just a common creation myth of the whole Mesopotamian region. Basically all the people groups / religions of that area tell and re-tell the same basic creation story over and over again, but simply tweaked it to fit their cultures.

We come to find that our Christian creation story was told hundreds and in some cases thousands of years earlier in other regions and religions, but some of the names and places are changed to account for different gods and goddesses. We are encouraged to simply look at the creation story as a story, as a myth, and not as something factual or divine. In fact, we fully acknowledge that it was just folklore that was taken from other pagan religions of the area.

He was told to simply think of this and other stories as “moral fables” that help teach us lessons about life, inspire us, or help us better understand the nature of God.

You can apply this to all kinds of things if you think about it: What about the entire story of Job? The Flood? Tower of Babel?

That was when my friend said “You know, it’s funny… The longer I am in bible school the less I believe in the bible.”

After this point, what is it I can do? I guess I could try to reassure him of the validity of his bible. Maybe I could condemn him for having doubts? Or maybe I can open up to him as well, and let him know that he is not the only one with doubts and concerns.

Sometimes just knowing that you are not the only one out there with an issue is quite helpful.

I told him that I never at any time that I could remember considered the bible to be a literal piece of historical literature. I always have considered it to be a blending of historical fact, personal opinion, political opinion, divine inspiration, and common mythology of the region. I tend to read it as an entire book, and look at the larger point that it is trying to make as a collective work – getting to know the personality of God, and how to know him more.

Heck I think that the apostle Paul was a sexist, and a bit of a jerk. Most churches, for example, read his writings on the role of women in the church and have one of 2 reactions:

  1. They take his words literally, and think women should not be allowed to be leaders in church, preach, teach, and even try to make them not wear makeup, certain clothing, and keep their heads covered at all times.
  2. They try to explain away Paul’s words with elaborate, imaginative, and speculative commentary. They can not declare that something in the bible is wrong, so instead they try to explain away what it says. Basically, oh it may say that, but it does not really say that. Maybe we do not know the whole background story, or we translated it wrong… etc etc.

I like approach number 3 better myself. Approach number 3 is simply saying – Yes it totally says that, and I disagree with it. Paul was wrong. He is being a bit sexist here. He was from a different culture, and a different time period. He was just a man. Not everything he said was sacred.

I then opened up to my friend, and let him know that although I did not know about this whole Genesis creation story thing, I was aware of the debate going on as to if the story of Jesus was actually just a re-telling or Jewish adaptation of the story of Mithra (or Dionysus).

I said that it was refreshing to hear that in our schools our pastors and professors are teaching that certain Old Testament stories are just borrowed stories from earlier religions – adapted to Jewish culture. But what about the New Testament? I find it funny that we can take such an open minded stance on the Old Testament, but the New Testament is totally off limits.

There is overwhelming evidence that the story of Christ is just a rehash of other Christ stories from earlier religions.

Based upon the facts that we know now, we can easily say that the creation story in Genesis was borrowed from other religions in the area. That it was common mythology for the Mesopotamian regions. We then say that it does not matter in the end. It does not get in the way of the point we are trying to make. It does not change our religion.

But what do we do about Christ? We have just as much proof that he too is just a borrowed story, a re-telling of the Christ story – passed down and picked up from various towns, peoples, and generations. The idea or ideal of Christ was simoly common myth in that area. It started in one area, and as people spread out the story was adapted to different people groups.

It is most-likely that there was no Jesus Christ as we know him in the bible. Either the historical Jesus was totally fabricated, and was simply a Jewish take on the worship of Mithra; Or he existed and later after his death people merged his teachings in with common fables of Mithra worship in an attempt to create a religion.

However, what does this realization mean for me as a Christian? As a Christ- ian? Sure I can easily dismiss a flood or a 7 day creation and say I can still be a Christian, but what about the knowledge that there was no Jesus?

Does that matter, or can we one day come to terms with that and realize that this as well does not take away from the greater concept or purpose of the religion?

Right now I am studying the Gnostic Scriptures, and am starting to consider the possibility that they were the first true “Christians”. I am open to the idea that the Gnostics had various myths that they adapted from region to region. These myths were not sacred to them – they were just stories to get people to become aware of some greater truths.

The Gnostics adapted the story for the Jewish culture, and in time we got Gnostic Christians. Some of these followers missed the point and took the story literally, and division occurred. Another option is that the orthodox church as we know it – knew it was a myth but intentionally wiped-out the Gnostics anyway for money and power.

It became a controlling religion with a power structure – bishops, popes, priests, repentance, penance, money, power, government – and so they wiped out the originators of the religion who stood in their way or exposing the myth for what it was – simply a story to help inspire us to take a first step to be better people, to realize that deep-down we are all spirit, and we are all son’s and daughters of God. If people had that revelation and knew they did not have to go to church, pay money to the church, and be controlled by the church – the church would loose it’s power. This power was also tied into the State government at the time (Rome), so the myth had to be preserved or even amplified.

I hate being this confused on the matter of my faith. What also concerns me is that none of this is new revelation to our church leadership and it’s teachers. The majority of the people in charge know this information in full detail – better than I do. They know, but they teach contrary to this knowledge anyway. In fact, some of them do not even have faith anymore, but they stay in positions of power to keep their churches or careers going.

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For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

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looserToday I went out and met a bunch of new people involved in the local Roller Derby. I am new in town finishing up my Masters, and am looking for things to do and to make some friends. I know from past experience that Roller Derby is pretty much the place to go for finding my fellow tattooed, rocker, rockabilly, pierced, fun loving hipsters in full force.

It was awesome. So I show up, not knowing anyone and withing seconds they throw me a pair of skates and a helmet and I am out on the rink skating, talking, laughing it up, and getting involved. I start learning about bands to check out, places to see, art shows, and some cool spots to hit.

Then they ask me what I am studying in college, and I stop and think to myself “Oh God no, this is where they find out I am some kind of religious nut job and they wont like me anymore”, but I don’t want to lie or deny Christ so I say that “I am studying theology”. One girl says “Cool, um what does that mean anyway?” and then another person there says “Jesus. The man studies about Jesus.” I laughed and said that was a pretty good definition, then others laughed with me… and then we went back to hanging out.

That was about the end of it. I still had fun, and I still made friends. People still got my number and invited me out again. Today I went home and had some new facebook friends and some invited to shows and events this week.

One girl there when things were rapping up and it was more private (note her tact and respect) asked me why I was in bible school and asked me if I was going to be a Priest. I laughed, then realized that her connection with Christianity may have been with a different denomination than I was used to (note my lack of initial tact) and so I stopped and said that I was not sure if I wanted to be a Priest or a Pastor, but that I felt called to study at bible school. I told her that several years ago I was already in study to be a Pastor and I got kicked out of the church for being too far “left” in some of my views. It took me a few years to get over that and get back to serving God again anyway just for myself, and I decided to go back to school to finish what I started. I explained that I had no idea as to what I was going to do after this or with this, but I knew that I wanted to help people. In any way help people, even if  on a humanitarian level vs a “spiritual” level – just people.

So today I realized that people are actually ok with the fact that you may or may not be a Christian. You see, if they don’t like you its probably just  because you’re a jerk.

I know lots of Christians like to go home and wine about how they did not fit in, or how they were not well liked or well received, and then they say to themselves “Well it wasn’t me they were rejecting, it was Jesus”. Well, hate to break it to you, but actually they just didn’t like you. Maybe you are unlikeable?

Remember the movie Liar Liarwith Jim Carrey? Here’s a quote from it that this makes me think of:

Max: “My teacher tells me real beauty is on the inside.”
Fletcher: “That’s just something ugly people say.”

Are you some kind of a total jerk? Pushy? Preachy? Got that I am better than you attitude about you? Or maybe it has nothing to do with your presentation of the gospel at all. Maybe you are just a mean person, or you have bad hygene? Maybe you have bad social skills?

Or finally, could you be one of those poor souls who is just totally and utterly socially retarded due to living in the Christian bubble for so long? You know the type… home schooled or private schooled, youth group, church 3 times a week, when asked to name bands you like you can only think of Christian bands…

Either way, if you are not fitting in and people don’t seem to like you, dont blame it on God, maybe you are just a jerk.

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For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

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