Two Haiku for You

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I have found myself
at a loss for words, but here
they come anyhow…

All the lighthouses!
All the lighthouses!
Yet there’s no light to be found.
Pointless monuments!

(Yes, I know the second one is irregular form, but I felt it sounded better with the first line repeated, so I broke the rules!)

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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.

Pony Gods

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Pony Gods
Written By: Maranda Russell

I pray to the Pony Gods.
I don’t know if they listen,
or even if they care,
but sometimes
they do seem to answer.

Why the Pony Gods?
Why not?

I figure the Pony Gods
have just as much a chance
of being good –
or being real
as the human ones.

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.

Promotional Opportunity for Other Indie Authors and Artists!

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Hello everyone! This is a special post to invite my fellow children’s authors to take part in a new promotional opportunity! I recently opened a PO box for my YouTube channels, and want other indie authors to feel free to send physical copies of their books/book-related items to be featured on my YouTube vlog if they desire to do so! My vlog channel “Maranda’s Collectibles & Books” has over 1,300 subscribers and over 300,000 views on my videos! Any children’s or YA books/promotional items are welcome. All appropriate packages I receive I open on video and share with my audience (I try to read a bit of the back blurb of each book on camera as well if possible). I want to use my channel to help other children’s writers get their books noticed! Artists are welcome to send artwork as well (just make sure it is appropriate for a general audience)! If you wish to be featured, send a copy of your book (signed if you wish) with any promotional materials to:

Maranda’s Collectibles & Books
PO Box 14
Englewood, OH 45322

*If you want to include a little donation to help support my channel, that would be great too, but definitely not required!

By the way, I do have a second YouTube channel geared more for adults entitled “Spiritual Agnostic” which deals with religion/spirituality/philosophy/psychology/mental health. If you would like to send a book, artwork, or something else related to those subjects to be featured on that channel, you can use the PO box information above, but make sure to address it to “Spiritual Agnostic” instead of my other channel name. Please take a look at the channel first though to get a feel for the kind of stuff I typically cover, please note that most fiction would not interest me for that channel.

My New Second YouTube Channel, “Nerdy Agnostic”!

Hello! This is just a short post to alert all my followers that I have started a second YouTube vlog channel entitled “Nerdy Agnostic“. The main reason I started a second channel was because my primary channel, “Maranda’s Toys & Books“, has a significant underage following and I wanted a separate channel where I could discuss more mature subject matter without worrying about kids being exposed to inappropriate material.

My new channel will be about a variety of subjects, but will likely focus largely on religion and secularism (hence the title “Nerdy Agnostic“), philosophy, social issues, politics, my own personal struggles (depression, Asperger’s, chronic illness, etc.), and anything else that I want to share with a more mature audience. If any of this appeals to you, please check out the channel and subscribe!

Here is the introductory video for my new channel:

New YouTube “Book Talk” Vlog Video – “The Light Beyond” by Dr. Raymond Moody

This past week I reviewed the book “The Light Beyond” written by Dr. Raymond Moody on my YouTube “Book Talk” vlog series. “The Light Beyond” is a book about the spiritual phenomena of near-death experiences which Dr. Moody devoted his career to studying. Dr. Moody’s books have since become bestselling classics in the spirituality/new age book genre. Although I myself have never had a near-death experience, I find the subject fascinating and have always enjoyed reading accounts of those who have had such experiences. I hope you will check out the video and let me know what you think!