A Non-Practicing Agnostic’s 2 Cents Worth – OR “Now I’m going to hell for SURE”
I was going to name this post “God is a Terrorist”.
Pretty harsh – but fearing God is no small thing.
Terrorism: ‘The systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion’
I think burning in the fiery pits of hell for eternity if you don’t adhere to a set of rules qualifies.
I stopped short though – because even after all of what I’m sharing below, I’m STILL scared I’m going to hell.
I do fear God.
The God of the books.
Who, in my opinion, due to purposefully edited pages for period relevant agendas – is misrepresented in the conglomeration.
I wanted to believe for years simply because I did not want to go to hell.
I was afraid not to believe.
Today I have, a ‘God’.
And it is love. And it is good. And it is hope.
I believe we are born believing in those things – it’s inherently in us.
We expect good before we even know what ‘good’ is. A baby will cry when angry voices are raised and I doubt it’s processing anything more than the negative energy, inherently knowing that only in positive energy will it survive and thrive.
A small child when abused for the first time, registers shock with the pain – it knows the parental action is contrary to love without anyone having to explain that to them.
The young have no prejudice – are open-minded – filled with wonder, hope, faith and dreams.
Then something happens along the way, I suppose the jaded of us knock those things right out of them.
We fuck it all up and then need to be reminded to be good.
Not to kill.
Not to steal.
Not to do the most basic of sins that we were born not wanting to do in the first place!
(In the interest of fairness, here’s a great article based on experiments that somewhat disagrees with me HERE)
I have to concede that in order for ‘good’ to encounter ‘bad’ – it must exist, and therefore, some of us are not born entirely ‘good’. Evil? I choose to call it Mentally Unhealthy. A gene … a predisposition that when coupled with a negative environment can only breed something dark.
I’ll once again share my favorite quote of all time:
To my mind, there’s no disputing that the monsters under our bed are based on the monsters that sleep atop them.
So let’s stick with the premise that we’re fundamentally good.
Society functions better when we are ‘good’ together (Rand and Nietzsche may disagree, but stay with me)
Ironically, think of Christmas time.
For all intents and purposes, let’s take religion out of it.
Think only of the atmosphere – shops playing festive music, decorations adorning the mundane – from lamp posts to our own living rooms. Strangers are nicer to one another (love) – anticipation is in the air (hope) and we’re thinking of others not ourselves (good).
Yes there’s a flip side to the holiday coin (pun intended), the stress of the material accumulation, preparing for guests, the huge expense of the ever exhausting increase of ‘gifting’ – but the FEELING of goodwill is undeniable.
Goodwill feels so much better naturally than hate.
I personally can’t be angry with someone without it tearing me up inside! That horrible feeling in the gut I get when I’m in fear or in a bad mood is just awful.
And natural. It’s always been. It’s an internal physical response to adversity.
I couldn’t lie, steal, covet, be a glutton, murder, or any of those other no-no’s without such a feeling.
And I felt that long before I learned they were against ‘the rules’.
Because of our own mortality, we have the sensibility to know the severity of taking another’s life.
Because we feel pain, we’re aware it’s not a good thing and therefore do not inflict it on others – except as punishment.
So let’s just assume that we are hardwired for good – and come with the basic fundamentals of how to behave on this planet.
I tend to research … a LOT when I’m pulled in different directions with a topic. I watched documentary after documentary about religion – about Christianity – about Atheism.
Documentaries that I hoped would be packed with fact and educational material for me, the ignorant seeker.
(I have a whole other post planned for ‘documentaries’. I’ve almost completely lost faith in them after getting some firsthand insight into how they are made, and especially after watching someone present themselves in a fashion not practiced in ‘real life’)
But, that is for another day.
I watched “The Unbelievers” featuring Dawkins and Krauss. I was in complete agreement with most of all the film. I wonder sometimes if my mind is too open. I’m mailable – and I know it.
I fell for a lot of Brian Flemmings “The God Who Wasn’t There”, especially when introduced to the Christ Myth and Graves 16 Crucified Saviors.
I was intrigued.
Then he lost me when he personally attacked someone with a derogatory comment.
I hate that. If your points are valid – stick to them. Don’t resort to name calling to try to win a debate.
It only weakens your reputation in my eyes and takes your argument with it.
I’ve seen 100’s of documentaries – obsessed with truth-seeking.
I’ve been moved to tears, had lifelong opinions challenged and changed and been introduced to people, places and situations I may otherwise never have encountered.
I even found my love through a documentary.
But I don’t believe ALL I read/hear.
I found a great rebuttal to the Jesus/Horus comparisons here: http://www.jonsorensen.net/2012/10/25/horus-manure-debunking-the-jesushorus-connection/ You really have to read the comments to get the full effect.
I love the back and forth – the freedom to disagree. “Permission to question”.
But there will always be people who pick and choose facts and leave out some details that don’t support their argument. (Another reason I’ve gone off documentaries)
I got to thinking, if tomorrow God was proven to be nothing but a myth, would I murder? If I no longer feared hell, would I sin just because I could?
No I wouldn’t.
Because there are other repercussions here on earth – it would affect my quality of life and of those around me. Repercussions of the heart – of our mental health – of our souls. Yes. I believe in a soul.
I believe that unexplainable part of us that gives us goosebumps when an achingly beautiful piece of music is played, is our soul. That part of us that fills with warmth when we watch our children sleeping – is our soul. That small voice reminding us to choose ‘good’ – is our soul.
We’re wired to want to be a part of something, to commune with others. We’re born with specific and individual talents and abilities so that when joined with others, we become an orchestra of humanity.
However you want to stay in touch with your humanity is fine by me – and I don’t take task with those who have unbridled Faith and use their powers for good. It’s those who are almost brainwashed – killing in the name of their religion. Those who look down on those who do not practice the same rituals, pray the same way or believe the same things that have me shuddering at organized religion.
And I won’t be a part of it.
I’ll stick to continual seeking – an open mind – and a unwavering belief in Love, Hope and Goodness.
Of Nuns and ipads …
Enjoyed a fleeting moment of time with my son last night. I was finishing up the last of the Call the Midwife episodes available currently on Netflix, and he joined me in watching it.
If you haven’t seen it – it takes place in a poor district of London during the 50’s, telling the story of midwives and the nuns of Nonnatus House, a nursing convent.
There was a scene when two nuns were discussing the decline of girls choosing that particular vocation.
My son uttered “Good!” from the couch opposite to me.
That didn’t sit well with me.
“You realize that when you vehemently oppose or degrade another point of view or belief, you are impacting the validity of your own? People who are confident in their beliefs, don’t feel the need to protest so much.”
This began a conversation that touched on Religion and Technology. Our views differed – and that was okay. The dialogue was amazing.
I am not a religious person. Organized religion is not for me. But, having said that, I have respect for those of Faith. I find facets of most religions to be interesting and good.
We spoke of the benefits of being raised with something to believe in.
Of there being a place in the heart of a community where people came together. We spoke of those who do evil in the name of their God.
We spoke of community, humanity and family.
My opinion was that community, humanity and family was being adversely affected by it.
My son disagreed and started to say that my opinion was formed unfairly.
I told him my opinion was based on personal experience. I was reminded of this scene from Good Will Hunting.
“So if I asked you about art, you’d probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life’s work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that.”
I have traveled – not just googled pictures of other countries.
I have helped those in need, not just clicked ‘like’ or ‘share’ on a cause on Facebook.
I have seen world events unfold before my eyes in the Middle East – not just read an edited version of the story online.
I pointed out that most nights, we sit with our ipads and when there is a ‘ding’ we are distracted.
I am guilty of this.
I’m guilty of typing out a quick ‘Happy Birthday’ on someone’s Facebook page, instead of taking the time to remember for myself, shop for a card – handwrite my best wishes. Guilty of Instant Messaging my own son when he is just a room away!
On a personal level, I reminded him we used to play. Together. We used to go places and give each other our full attention.
He argued that technology has brought more people together – and I could not deny that. I also cannot deny that technology is fun. Technology gives us access to information. But at what cost?
We play alone. We learn from other people’s information.
Increasingly forming foundations for values, opinions, and beliefs not from our own tangible experiences anymore.
That scares me.
Worth Waiting For
I have very good instincts.
I have always been able to trust my gut – having said that, this does not mean I’ve always made the right choices.
In my past, I definitely self sabotaged. Let people into my life that satisfied a need to treat myself poorly or provided a lesson I needed to learn.
But, still I knew who they were and what I was getting into deep down.
I’m healthier now – I’ve worked out most of my demons – I’ve grown and blossomed.
I need to trust that – and not the opinions of others.
To be honest, this past year, I let doubt and negativity in and allowed my faith to waiver.
I was never more certain my trust has been placed in the right hands than I was yesterday.
I was renewed with patience. With affirmation that what I’ve put my life on hold for is worth it. Not only is it worth it – it IS my life.
I couldn’t love someone who didn’t have a passion – who didn’t think of others or want to better the world by being of service somehow. Whether that be education, art, charity …
Selfishness is ugly.
There is nothing less attractive than a soul wrapped up in self.
I’ve felt guilty of this when I’ve privately pouted that I could not have the person I wait for sooner. The selfless thing to do IS to wait.
I feel with every fiber of my soul that what the object of my affection is doing something so much more important and so much bigger than ‘us’.
I do not say this as a martyr. I say this as an educated member of humanity. It is truth.
I can wait.
And I know what I’m waiting for is worth it. I know this.
And I know I can trust my instincts.
Something I had been looking forward to and planning for did not come to pass.
I don’t know how I really feel about that right now, or if I should even be thinking about how I feel.
It seems somehow selfish to be disappointed – sad – confused.
Regardless, there is a sensation in the part of my heart that still believed in fairy tales, akin to having the wind punched out of me.
My work week had not ended on a high note either – I overheard an inaccurate account of something that I was a part of.
What bothered me most about that was being reminded, once again, that I am naive and gullible when it comes to placing my exuberance and trust into the hands of others.
I forget that.
I think the best of everyone. I don’t expect it, but I give my trust easily.
So I’m sitting in my little sanctuary – and trying to process the latest news – and I feel numb.
What I know to be true are the following things:
I’ll never stop believing there is good.
I’ll never stop seeing good in others.
I’ll always give the benefit of the doubt to those who may not prove to have deserved it.
I’ll always give those who have given me reason to doubt, a second chance.
I will show up, no matter where it is, with all I have to give. Whether it’s work, friendship, love …
When I ready myself to sleep – I will ask myself if I accomplished those things.
My list of things I’m grateful for, far outweighs any complaints I could write down.
Among them, of course, my son – the irony that the picture I used above is from the song ‘Beautiful Boy’ has not escaped me.
And this phone call – from a dear friend who reached out – to help me process the matter of the heart.
I know this to be true too.
I am rich with the most important treasures.
And if I am never to have a glass slipper placed on my foot – I will walk bare footed.
A Heretics prayer at Christmas
I pray because it feels good and it feels right.
It feels right because I’m saying ‘thank you’ without a human audience, and that feels authentic.
It feels right because I’m taking a moment to reflect and ask for guidance – and not things.
It feels good because I pray for positive energy – I ask for blessings for others.
But, I am not a Christian.
I tried to be. I’ve asked ‘the’ question in the past – with an open mind and willing soul: “Jesus, please come into my heart.”
I tried because it felt like the right thing to do, but mostly because I didn’t want to go to hell.
Then I felt hypocritical asking out of fear.
I wanted so badly to believe – but not at any cost – not because I was afraid not to.
I even convinced myself to some degree that God might actually appreciate an honest heart that at least tried. Although, probably I am going to hell. If there is one.
I had to be honest with myself though. I don’t believe. I do not believe the stories in the bible happened.
And it’s not just Christianity, every religion to me, seems as if a game of ‘telephone’ (Or ‘Chinese Whispers’) has been played with it.
If there is any one and only ‘right’ religion, man has dipped his hands into it over time. As a result, I just don’t feel like what was original, authentic or intended is among the current selections.
I don’t trust man.
But I do have Faith.
I believe in a higher power. Something bigger than me. Something I’ll never understand and am not completely meant to … because wouldn’t that be counterproductive to the concept of ‘Faith’?
I do believe in the power of prayer.
I believe there is a source of good – and of love.
And for all intents and purposes, I call that God.
In two weeks it will be Christmas Day.
Although I’m not Christian, I can appreciate a day selected to celebrate the birth of a child that represented love and forgiveness. I can get behind that.
In fact, I usually adore this time of year. The extra love and kindness that the Season tends to bring from others.
The lights and the music – the joy and the hope that warms Winter.
I’m not feeling any of that this year.
I have knots in my stomach where excitement should be.
I’m looking away from lights and avoiding the holiday music.
I feel like a deadline is beating down on me that I can’t possibly meet.
I love giving.
I especially love being able to grant a wish – be able to witness a smile that reaches the eyes of someone I love.
It’s been a tough year financially.
I know I’m not the only one – but I can’t write about what other people are feeling.
I only know how I am feeling.
I know that presents aren’t ‘the reason for the season’, but I don’t want to let my son down.
I’ve always found a way.
Somehow managed to grant a material wish for the boy I would lay down and die for.
I am falling short this year.
And it hurts.
And it makes me wish Christmas wouldn’t come.
I need to pray on that.
Pray on why the need to give is so strong, that I feel ‘less than’ if I can’t do it.
Because that’s a lot different from needing to give and not wanting to do it.
I need to pray on why it upsets me so much to think I’m letting someone down when I can’t provide things they want.
Because that’s a lot different from not providing things they need.
I don’t ever want my motives to be driven by fear.
I will pray they are driven by love.
I’m quite certain they are.
It is Christmas after all, the one time of year when it’s traditional to show love by offering gifts. To indulge in a few material tokens of our affection.