My Current Feelings on Religion

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For a few years, I was really pissed at religion. Not necessarily at religious people, I always understood that religious people are just like any other group of people, some are well-meaning and kind and others are power-hungry jerks. Most others fall somewhere in the middle, just like the rest of humanity. Of course, when you are angry at religion in general (or Christianity specifically in my case), those who believe in that religion tend to take whatever you say personally, as if you are attacking them rather than a belief system. I understand to an extent. When you are devoted to a religion, you struggle with any criticism of it because you find much of your identity within that belief system and you honestly believe that God himself will hold you accountable if you don’t defend him (that whole “whoever publicly acknowledges me before others” thing Jesus said).

So why was I mad at religion, and specifically Christianity? Mostly, a feeling of betrayal. I came to the conclusion through much biblical and historical study that the scriptures are not inerrant (and were somewhat put together by Rome for political purposes) and everything kind of crumbled after that. Without the belief in perfect scriptures, I found it impossible to believe much of anything because who knows which parts might be right and which are wrong? Logical questions also played a huge role in my de-conversion. For instance, why in the world would a being create a system where the only way he could forgive wrongs done against him was to send part of himself to earth in the form of his son and excruciatingly kill himself? Why the whole blood sacrifice thing? Isn’t that a bit barbaric and pagan actually? If God can do anything, why in the heck couldn’t he just forgive without something innocent having to be murdered? The more I thought things through, the more I felt betrayed because I had devoted so much of my life to these beliefs that now made no sense to me.

All these feelings haunted me and the more I concentrated on it, the angrier I felt and the more I felt duped all those years. I started listening to atheist voices (even though I was never an atheist, I consider myself an agnostic now). Some of these atheists I listened to were nuanced and considerate of at least some religious sensibilities, but some definitely were not. Through all this though, it is kind of funny, I still felt bad for some reason when Jesus was maligned. To this day I still nearly wince when awful things are said about Jesus. I guess old loyalties die hard. I still occasionally listened to my old Christian rock records too, just because I like them. I still prayed, sometimes desperately, just hoping if there was ANYTHING out there it would let me know. Unfortunately, no great revelation was made.

So that brings us to today…and how do I feel now? Rather unemotional actually. Yes, there are still parts of religion I dislike, especially when taken to a literal extreme. Yes, I still listen to Jars of Clay (my favorite Christian group) and still don’t really like Jesus being abused. I’ve come to the conclusion I just like the guy, whether he ever really existed or whether his story was greatly exaggerated, I still like the guy. I find that there are still lessons I learned in the church that apply and I’m glad I was a Christian for all those years. Without it, I doubt I would be as sensitive and caring about social issues and I simply wouldn’t be the same person. I cherish the relationships I made during those years and all the people I loved. I’m not angry anymore. I’m still firmly agnostic, but am always open if some greater force wants to contact me. You’ve got my number God, hit me up sometime.

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Video: My Experiences with Emotional Pain or Abuse from a Church or Religion

Hi everyone! I wanted to share this video I made recently for my Spiritual Agnostic YouTube vlog channel, in the hopes that perhaps others who have experienced similar things or even much worse, might find some comfort and strength in knowing they aren’t alone and that it is possible to heal and move on from things like this. In no way did I make this video to be mean or vengeful, but just to express my own process of growth and learning through these experiences.

An open letter to churches and church people about chronic illness and pain

Lonely Leaf

To churches and church folks everywhere:

Unfortunately, I have heard too many stories from fellow chronic pain/chronic illness sufferers about mistreatment at the hands of the church or church people. Some of these people even end up losing their faith or abandoning church altogether because they are hurt so badly by the apathy or mistreatment they feel from their spiritual family. I myself have experienced some similar things in the past and I would like to make a few requests for all churchgoers to consider, especially those in leadership positions:

  • Please don’t ignore or mistreat those in your church with chronic illness or chronic pain conditions. Don’t think that just because they can’t always make it to church or participate in activities that they don’t want to. Don’t accuse them of just being lazy, selfish or antisocial.
  • Please do reach out to them by making a quick call, a short visit, connecting on social media or dropping a card in the mail once in awhile. If you have never had a long-term chronic illness or injury, you may not know how lonely, depressing and rough it can be.
  • Don’t think or comment that since they don’t look sick on the outside, they must not be sick or hurting. Many illnesses and injuries are invisible and even if a person doesn’t look like they are in pain, it doesn’t mean they aren’t. Many of us get so used to the pain that we don’t normally talk about it or even show it on our face anymore, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t felt.
  • Remember that mental illnesses like depression and anxiety can be just as devastating and debilitating as a physical illness. Also remember that depression and anxiety often accompany a chronic physical illness or injury, which can compound the problem and make it even harder for a person to function normally.
  • Don’t play doctor and tell us what you think is “really” wrong with us or tell us what we need to do to “fix” ourselves. Your intentions may be good, but most likely we have already visited various health professionals and tried anything and everything to try to fix the problem and find relief. If you constantly tell us what we “should” be doing, it can make us feel like it is our fault we are sick or in pain because we aren’t doing enough to try to solve the problem, which is normally entirely untrue. And NEVER insinuate that our illness/injury is caused by a lack of faith or that God is “punishing” us for one reason or another. First of all, that isn’t your judgement to make. Would you want to hear that when you are suffering? Treat others the way you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes.
  • Lastly, try to find a way to “include” us even when we can’t be there. Share photos on FB or by email with us of events we had to miss. If we can’t make it to a special dinner, bring us by a doggy bag of the yummy food we missed. Let us know we are missed, but don’t try to make us feel guilty for what we can’t help.

To Keep or Not to Keep…That is the Question

Tonight at church we found a couple kittens who had been abandoned in the parking lot.  They were inside a cardboard box, but other than that, hadn’t been left with any necessities.  We don’t know how long they had been there, but they could have been there since Sunday.  The little guys were starving, but more than that, one of them was obviously ill.  We took them home, gave them a bath, fed them and then tucked them in for the night.

Originally the plan was to drop them off at a shelter tomorrow, but now it’s getting harder to do that.  I told myself I WOULD NOT GET ATTACHED, but then we gave them names and took care of them and snuggled up to them…I worry that it won’t be that easy to part with them now.  We need to make a decision soon, after all, one of them really needs medical care, but should we pay for a vet visit or just take it to the shelter and let the vets there heal it?

Now that I think about it, we probably shouldn’t have given them names, because it will only make it MUCH harder to consider giving them up…but on the other hand, we already have three cats…do we really want five?

Here are some photos of these kittens after their bath.  The first two photos are of Ichabod.  He (or she) looks pretty healthy and is a very loving butterball.  The last two photos are of the sick kitty.  He (or she) is severely underweight, and I figure it probably has worms.  This one is tentatively named Mao…but make sure you say it right…like a cat would.