Posts Tagged 'Bible'

I Used to Be One of those Awful Christians that I Can’t Stand

So I’m still in the process of moving, and I wasn’t planning on doing anymore blogging until I had made a significant dent in my unpacking, but I came across something today that I couldn’t wait to write about so here I am!

I’ve kept a lot of things from my childhood like letters, cards, journals, newspaper clippings, etc. and as I’m  unpacking I decided that I would go through this stuff and try to get it organized. I found a bunch of journals from when I was much younger, and I started reading one that I had to write in as part of our daily class participation when I was in 10th grade (15 years old).

At first I was cringing at what an annoying keener student I was, constantly pestering the teacher about different assignments and class work. But then about a month into the journal things got interesting. After we made our journal entry for the day, the teacher would read it over and put a comment in the margins.

On March 7th, I’m guessing in response to something we had talked about in class, she wrote “Are you involved with your church?”

She would probably regret writing that for the rest of the year, because this was the perfect opening for me to try to save her soul. Some of the things I wrote were unbelievable. I knew that I was passionate about Christianity in highschool, especially in Grade 10, but I had no memories of being so obnoxious about it.

To give a little bit of background, 10th grade was my first year in highschool, and it was also my first exposure to evangelical Christians. These new friends had a big influence on my thinking about Christianity, and they introduced me to the wackaloon ideas of the Rapture and the end times. They also got me hooked on reading that ghastly Left Behind series (click the link if you don’t already know what that is, the rest of this may not make sense if you don’t).

*****

Alrighty, time to start showing you what an insufferable Christian I was when I was 15…here are selected quotes from my journal (leaving my poor punctuation choices intact), with the notes from the teacher in italics, and comments from me in red, starting with after she asked about church:

March 8 – I wouldn’t say I’m involved much with my church because the sermons don’t really capture me, and I don’t feel I belong. I’d like to start going to [the local evangelical megachurch] because I’ve heard a tape of their pastor, and he’s really good. This is explained in a note I found in my memories box from an evangelical friend, who lent me a taped sermon on prayer from her church. I remember listening to that, and I seem to remember the minister talking about how dinosaur bones were put there by the devil to test our faith. I took notes from these tapes in my Bible, which I talked about in this post. I’ve been really devoted to God ever since I started reading this book series. The first one is called Left Behind…you should read them because they might save your life. Save your life??? WTF was wrong with me?

“I have faith and am an active member of my church. Thanks for giving me the names of the books though.” In other words, please stop pestering me.

April 27 – Have you ever read the books called Left Behind? I guess I forgot that I had told her about them already. I love those books! …It’s a series, and they’re really amazing…When you read the back it will sound like science fiction, but it’s soooo not! Of course it’s not, no science fiction could be as craptastic as the LB series. READ THEM!!!!!!!!! You’re guaranteed to love them. They get better each new book!!! Tell me if you read them!

“I will.” She then went on to explain how she doesn’t read much fiction, she probably thought that would be the end of it. Ha! I’m trying to save her soul here!

April 28 – No you have to read them!!!!!!!! It’s not fiction at all!!!!!!!!! All the stuff in them is taken from the Bible! The only thing made up are the characters!

I guess I misunderstood. I will tell you if I read them. Ha, she can’t get rid of me that easy!

May 5 – Today the world was supposed to end! Guess not! Huh? I had no idea what I was talking about here, so I looked up 05/05/2000 and found this. The world won’t ever end. First Jesus comes and takes all his people, then theres 7 years of destruction on the Earth, then the world is rebuilt and living on Earth is like living in heaven! Source: a crappy fiction series loosely based on the zaniest book in the Bible. I got no response from the teacher on this one…

May 9 – Aren’t you going to answer our journals from May 5th? Have you read those books yet? You really should!

“I haven’t read the books. I’m pretty much at peace with my beliefs. Thank you for thinking about me.” If you thought I could take a hint, you thought wrong.

May 10 – You really should read them, though. What are your beliefs exactly? Have you read the Bible? She wrote “Yes” in the margin. I love reading the new testament. It’s beautiful. My favourite Bible verse is 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 “We are often troubled, but never in despair. dometi…I forgot it! But it’s beautiful! Oh Christ I can’t believe how annoying I was.

Yes it is beautiful. I don’t discuss my faith because it is so personal and important to me and I don’t feel I should have to explain it or defend it. I am happy that you have found your faith and that you have such serenity. I definitely didn’t have serenity with my faith if I was spending so much time trying to tell someone that the world would end soon.

May 11 – I disagree that you feel you shouldn’t discuss your faith, because it’s very important to share, and in doing so you may save other people. But I understand that it’s against policy for teachers to discuss subjects like that, even though I believe that rule is wrong. That’s right, I was one of those ignorant buffoons who thought that Christianity should be taught in schools.

There is a difference working in the public school system and the private school system. At [Mennonite School] or [Catholic School] religion is separate and integrated so teachers talk about their faith. The public school system has students and teachers of all faiths and if religion is discussed it can offend Buddhist students or Jewish students or Jehovah Witnesses – all of whom have distinct beliefs they value. You will notice there is no public praying in schools.

Although she was a Christian, she made a compelling argument against faith being brought into school, but of course 15-year-old me couldn’t let it go. When I read this next part today I was horrified, my face turned red, and my husband wondered what was wrong with me…

May 12 – I still hold to my belief that Christianity should be brought into the school, because all those people who are in those other religions are going to hell, pardon, I was pardoning myself for saying a swear word, not for saying those people are hell-bound…oh the horror! and same with the kids who don’t believe anything. kids! And I had no problem with this stuff! People think that being a good person will get you to heaven, but you have to confess your sins and ask for forgiveness from God and truly believe in Jesus and God and know that Jesus died to save us to get into heaven. And that’s a fact! Why do people think atheists are the smug ones? This might make it seem like God’s bad, um, yeah. but it’s man’s fault, because when Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they gave the world to the devil, so he’s controlling everything on earth. And you could say God’s like a car, and we’re his gas. He needs our prayers to help us, and he wants us to go to heaven, but some of us don’t believe, and the devil keeps them to himself and they go to hell.  What the poop was I talking about? If this journal weren’t in my handwriting I probably wouldn’t believe that I could ever write down such ignorant and awful things.

In your adult life perhaps that is one of the ways in which you can serve – get involved in politics and make changes in the way schools are run. Translation: I’ll ignore the part where you went batshit insane and insulted almost everyone in the world and try to focus your crazy into a future goal.

*****

The journal went on and I would say it even got worse, but for now I think I’ve put you through enough. When I found these words that I had written what I really wanted to do was to burn them so that nobody could know about these horrible thoughts I had, but I swallowed my pride because I think it’s interesting to show how far I’ve come.

Finding that journal has shown me that it’s possible for people with fundamentalist beliefs to learn to use reason and to come around to a skeptical worldview. I’m so glad that I’m not that person anymore.

I may blog about the rest of the journal another time, but I also came across a few other interesting artifacts from my religious past: (1) a letter I wrote to the Bishop when I was confirmed into the Catholic Church, (2) a letter explaining why I wanted to quit going to my church, and (3) a philosophy paper from my first year in university in favour of the existence of God. I hope to write about those soon!

Now back to unpacking…or to bed, wow it’s late!

How Can Women Stay Catholic?

I’m sorry about the rare posting lately, July has proven to be a crazy month. I bought a house so I’m packing up the apartment, looking for new tenants for our old place, I’m also in a wedding party for a wedding next week, going camping with the fam soon and getting ready for a trip to Europe next month. So I think I’m excused for my poor attendance on my blog lately!

What prompted me to write today was a post on Friendly Atheist. You may have heard about this recent news out of the Catholic Church:

The Vatican today made the “attempted ordination” of women one of the gravest crimes under church law, putting it in the same category as clerical sex abuse of minors, heresy and schism.

The new rules, which have been sent to bishops around the world, apply equally to Catholic women who agree to a ceremony of ordination and to the bishop who conducts it. Both would be excommunicated. Since the Vatican does not accept that women can become priests, it does not recognise the outcome of any such ceremony.

I want to talk about the question (more like a questatement) that Hemant Mehta posed on his blog post in regards to this news:  “I really want to know why any self-respecting women would remain in a Church that treats them so poorly.”

It’s an interesting thing to think about, and I’m sure a lot of atheists would have a hard time seeing why any person would remain in the Catholic Church even before these new rules came out. I know I express all the time my incredulity at anyone who stays in any religion. But really, for most of my life I was religious, and there are billions of people out there who have no problem belonging to religions that tell them they’re worthless without their god of choice.

So why is it that people will go on believing in a religion that has so little respect for them?

Here’s the comment I posted on the Friendly Atheist post:

When I was a Catholic I accepted that as a woman I was inherently inferior to men due to Eve’s mistake. Stupid, I know…but if other Catholic women think like I did then they’re not self-respecting women, so the Church’s declaration would probably just be swallowed like all the other bullshit the Church dishes out.

I want to elaborate a little on that because it got me thinking back into the mindset I had when I had no problem accepting such a harsh doctrine.

Growing up my parents never pigeonholed us into gender roles. My brother played with Barbies and I played with Hot Wheels and they never discouraged us from doing non-girly or non-boyish things. So where did this idea come from that I’m inherently inferior to men? I think it started when I was in highschool and I became friends with a couple of evangelical Christians. We had our spares together, and my friend would bring her Bible and we would discuss various topics of interest to Christians. I only had a passive interest in my Bible until she started telling me about this and that inspirational story, and that’s when I started really looking at the thing (of course I looked selectively like a true Christian would, see the post on my childhood Bible).

I think that once you allow yourself to be immersed in the culture of Christianity it’s only natural to start to believe things like abortion is always wrong, homosexuality is a sin, women should stay in their place, etc. I believed that the Bible was true, and I believed that God was good and loving. I also bought into that crap about humans being sinners who need to repent. I believed that all humans had to pay for the mistakes of Adam and Eve, and somehow it didn’t cross my mind that God was at fault for putting the apple in the garden to begin with. And of course, I believed that Jesus would save me from my sinful ways.

I remember once telling someone…I can’t remember who it was, or what we were discussing…I think I was telling someone why I believed feminism is stupid, and my reasoning was Eve ate the apple and that’s why women have the joy of menstruation and that’s why our job is to serve men. Women have to pay for her mistake, too bad, so sad. I have no idea if that’s really what the Bible said, but it was enough that it seemed like something that the Bible would say, because it was nice to have a pat answer.

Christianity was easy. It had black and white responses for almost everything. Rather than delving into the complicated ethics of abortion, I could just refer back to “thou shalt not kill.” I think that’s a large part of what drew me to the religion. I thought I had all the answers, and I felt like I was in on the secret to everlasting life in heaven. It’s a nice feeling provided your thoughts don’t drift to those poor souls who haven’t heard the good news.

Okay I’d better get back to the topic, which is why Catholic women stay in a church that treats them like second-class citizens. When you’re a part of a church you generally buy into the idea that you’re a sinner, and that this church has the answers you need to gain entry to heaven. The problems that exist in the world are caused by the evils of humans rather than of God. You trust the church leaders because they speak with authority, they’ve studied the religion all their lives, they must know what God wants you to do.

Once you’ve accepted this then it’s in your best interest to act how your church wants you to act. When I went to church on a regular basis with my family, I revered our priest. I felt like when he shook my hand or handed me the sacrament that I was getting a special gift from a holy person. I trusted that what he taught was the truth, and I thought that all churches were probably like mine because what I was being taught just seemed to make sense.

It’s hard for outsiders to see why someone would associate themselves with an organization that, it seems, is always in the news for the horrible things it says and does. But when you’re indoctrinated to believe that you’re a worthless sinner, you don’t have self-respect, and you go along with what the Church wants you to do because that’s the way to be saved from your horrible self. Although it may seem from the outside that women shouldn’t belong to an organization that has so little respect for them, that’s just the harsh reality that the believer accepts. You believe that the Church has your best interests at heart, and that when they say something like “the ordination of women is a crime,” they’re really just trying to save the souls of would-be female priests.

Atheist/Rationalist Reading the Bible

Just sharing a link,

Here‘s someone who is reading the Bible cover-to-cover, and rationalizing as she goes. The tag line:

My journey through the pages of “The Holy Book,” what I uncover and how my knowledge of history and my rational thinking explain its secrets.

She’s plugging along at a good pace too, so if you’ve ever wanted to read the whole book you might want to read along with her!

Good stuff!

Sunday Bible Reading – An Example of the Anti-Intellectualism of the Bible

1 Corinthians 18-20

Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”

How an intelligent person can put so much stock in a book that promotes not thinking for yourself is beyond me.

This passage stands in contrast to Psalm 14, which reads:

The fool says in his heart, 
“There is no God.” 
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; 
there is no one who does good.

So fools are corrupt and don’t believe in God, but on the other hand you want to be a fool because wise people are crafty buggers! I’m confused.

Genesis in 3D

This is something I actually think could be pretty cool. According to this blog, Paramount is planning to tell the Genesis story in 3D. I think a depiction of the creation of the Earth and the story of Adam and Eve could make for a visually stimulating movie experience.

I also think that putting the Genesis story on the big screen would make it blatant that it’s a fairy tale, but I don’t even care if it does that. I would love to see what today’s movie technology could do to bring the Garden of Eden to life.

The relationship between God, Adam, Eve and the Serpent could make for an interesting script, too. It sounds like they’re making this movie to appeal to religious audiences, but if they don’t restrict themselves to sticking to scripture they could take the story of Genesis in a lot of interesting directions.

Sunday Bible Reading

In which I post an uninspiring, sometimes hilarious, sometimes disturbing passage from that book that some claim is the word of god.

Today’s reading: 2 Chronicles 14:12-15

12So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled.

13And Asa and the people that were with him pursued them unto Gerar: and the Ethiopians were overthrown, that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before the LORD, and before his host; and they carried away very much spoil.

14And they smote all the cities round about Gerar; for the fear of the LORD came upon them: and they spoiled all the cities; for there was exceeding much spoil in them.

15They smote also the tents of cattle, and carried away sheep and camels in abundance, and returned to Jerusalem.

The Tim Tebow Focus on the Family Superbowl Ad

So I just finished watching the Superbowl, go Saints woot! And I caught the pro-life ad featuring Tim Tebow (a college football star) and his mother forFocus on the Family and I wanted to write down my thoughts before going to see what others said about it.

This ad sparked a lot of controversy because advertisements for advocacy groups aren’t normally allowed during the Superbowl. But for some reason CBS decided to take Focus on the Family’s ad, in spite of its controversial subject matter: abortion.

If it hadn’t been for the controversy over the ad I probably wouldn’t have paid attention to it. It was a really boring one compared to what you normally expect out of the Superbowl…and especially compared to the adorable ad that preceded it featuring Betty White. It started off with Tebow’s mom holding up a picture of him and saying:

I call him my miracle baby. He almost didn’t make it into this world. I can remember so many times when I almost lost him. It was so hard. Well, he’s all grown up now and I still worry about his health. You know with all our family’s been through we have to be tough.

At this point it feels like it might be an ad for a hospital or medical charity or something, I can see it ending with “thanks to the wonderful doctors at ______ I got to see my son win the Heisman.”

But what actually comes next is Tebow tackling his mother! What the??

And then there’s some banter between the two while Focus on the Family flashes their website, and that’s it! They want you to go to their website to hear the rest of Tim’s story, but I find the story as it’s represented in the commercial to be utterly uncompelling, so I don’t know why anyone would care to see the any more of it. But I guess I like torturing myself because I visited their website.

It links to a video of Tim’s parents talking about what happened, which is a snoozer about how they decided to go against their doctor’s recommendation to abort and risk his mother’s life, and how they’re so lucky because their baby came out healthy and grew up to be a role model and a football star. The message of the video is to put the baby’s life in god’s hands and to not abort but to have faith.

It’s a really dangerous message because although in the Tebows’ case everything worked out, other mothers may not be so lucky. Not to mention the pregnancy will not likely result in a football star. And for Mrs. Tebow to be preaching about not having an abortion is not fair. In her situation they intended to get pregnant, and she had the support of her husband to help her through her health issues throughout the pregnancy.

What about single mothers who can’t afford to take care of a child, or whose death would result in her other children becoming orphans? What about rape victims? It’s horrible to put this kind of shameless guilt trip on women who are going through the extremely difficult situation of choosing whether or not to abort.

The real kicker, and the part that makes me want to punch my computer screen, is when Mr. Tebow says tearfully to the camera: “Don’t kill your baby.” What a colossal asshole.

At the end of the video they quote from the Bible, John 10:10:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Basically saying that god is for life. Um news flash, even if you ignore all of the smiting god does throughout the Bible, if you believe that god designed the reproductive system then god is the biggest abortionist of them all. I’ve heard that between 30 and 50% of conceptions end in miscarriage (you can get some better numbers with references on Wikipedia). Is god killing all of those babies?
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