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.

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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.

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!

New YouTube Video – “Behind the Scenes of My Newest Book Release – “Searching for the Truth”

In my latest YouTube vlog, I gave some personal information about what inspired my most recent book release, “Searching for the Truth: Poems & Prose Inspired by Our Inner Worlds”. I also read aloud a couple of the shorter poems from the book and explained why they meant so much to me. I hope you will check it out!

All the world’s a stage and we are merely players

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Today I’ve been thinking about relationships and reminiscing about not only current relationships, but all the ones I can remember in my 32 years. As I considered the bonds between myself and a myriad of other sentient beings, I began to see my life as some kind of play or movie. Of course, I thought of myself as the central character (since I can only live in my mind) but I also decided which other people would be main characters right now (my husband, mom and cats were the first to come to mind). After that, I looked at supporting characters, which right now would be extended family, church friends, people I talk to frequently on Facebook and colleagues of the art/writing/autism community. Lastly, I thought of the minor characters or even “extras” – those people who aren’t a regular part of my life and may not even know my name but can still affect my mood and spirit by how they choose to treat me in the moments we share.

As I was busy drawing these influential connections in my mind, I found the list growing and growing. People who were once a big part of my life but now aren’t or those people who I have never met in person but either inspired or horrified me by the things they did or said. I thought of how certain musicians, authors and historical figures have had a huge impact on my thoughts, beliefs and values. As I kept thinking, I almost felt like the idea was getting too big for my head to hold. The sheer number of lives that have touched mine is amazing. I know I have impacted many of them as well – both for good and bad (but hopefully more good than bad). I even thought about how many people I may have greatly influenced without even realizing it. Since there are many people who may never know how much they meant to my life journey, I’m sure that I have probably been the same to others without knowing it.

So here I would like to take a moment to say thank you to EVERYONE who has had a part in my life. You have helped make me who I am and as imperfect as I still am, I like the person I’m growing into. I miss many of you who I don’t see or speak to regularly anymore. Never think I quit loving or caring about you. Some of you have filled me with hope in moments of despair and I thank you, even though you may never know what you meant to me and I may not even consciously remember who said and did what. Some of you I hope to grow to know better, because I feel that there is something in my soul that recognizes something in yours. Some I have walked away from intentionally, but that doesn’t mean our relationship wasn’t important to me, just that for one reason or another I needed to grow elsewhere for a while. In the end, I like to think that even over distance and time, our memories and souls keep us connected.

New book release – “Searching for the Truth: Poems & Prose Inspired by Our Inner Worlds”

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I am happy to announce that my new book, “Searching for the Truth: Poems & Prose Inspired by Our Inner Worlds” is finally available! This is a book that I have been planning and working on for the last few years. I have always been interested in subjects such as spirituality, philosophy and psychology, so I feel a strong desire to share my thoughts and feelings about those matters. Most importantly though, I wanted to show that the real magic is in being allowed to contemplate these deeper subjects and be open to possibilities instead of focusing only on one aspect. This is not a “religious” book because it doesn’t adhere to any specific theology, but it is spiritual in nature.

“Searching for the Truth” embraces simplicity and honesty in an almost zen-like fashion. It is easy to understand, but often filled with layers of meaning for those who like to dig deeper.

If you would like to purchase a copy of this new book, it is available on Amazon ($6.99 for paperback and $2.99 for the Kindle version) and Barnes & Noble. I love to know what my readers think of my books, so if you read this collection, please consider leaving a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Goodreads.

5 reasons why I’m glad I left fundamentalist Christiandom behind

“Crick in the Neck”, mixed media 8.5″ x 11″. Breaking free of old chains!

“Crick in the Neck”, mixed media 8.5″ x 11″. Breaking free of old chains!

Before I get into my list, first I want to state that not all people considered fundamentalists or conservatives are like the fundamentalist Christianity I am most familiar with. I’ve known some evangelical Christians who are extremely kind, loving people. However, I grew up and struggled with a very strict religious tradition (where women weren’t allowed to wear pants, makeup or cut their hair, tv was considered evil and everyone who thought the slightest bit different than us was going straight to hell). After I grew up and married I went to a denomination that was somewhat less strict, but still as a whole was definitely conservative. I try hard not to judge those who believe differently than myself, although it is hard when I see people who let their religious beliefs overcome their human compassion. Having come from such a strict background and choosing to walk away from it has made me a little sensitive to criticism and rejection from those who believe like I once did, but I still try to see the good inside of them, because almost all of us have good shining through if you look for it. As you read this post, please keep in mind that these are the things I struggled with and am glad to have changed, but they are not meant to be stereotypes of all conservatives.

Anyhow, with all that said, here are 5 of the biggest reasons I am thankful to have left behind fundamentalism:

#1 – I no longer live in fear of going to hell or of those I love suffering eternal torture in hell. This does not mean that I don’t believe in justice and that if you live a horrible life you may not face some karma or discipline or whatever you choose to call it. However, I do not believe in a cruel God who would eternally torture or punish those who happened to live a short lifetime with some mistakes or with the “wrong” beliefs. Personally, I tend to believe that our greatest judge of our misdeeds after our death may be our own soul, not a higher being. It always interested me that in most near death experiences, when people went through their life review, they didn’t feel any judgement from God or Jesus for the wrongs they did, but they felt all the pain they had caused others through their actions and this truly changed their outlook and heart.

#2 – I don’t have to exclude anyone. I don’t have to believe that anyone is worth less than anyone else or that some of us are “better” than others. I don’t have to turn away gays, liberals, infidels or anyone else. I can be around people who drink or smoke or are openly sexual without fearing they will somehow “contaminate” me. I can focus more on my own spiritual growth rather than focusing on any perceived lack of spirituality in others. I can love and befriend anyone without trying convert them.

#3 – I don’t have to read the cringe-worthy bits of the Bible and try to find some kind of reasoning for why it is ok. I can look at the Bible and see that it was written by humans who were trying to understand and please God, but who were still just plain old humans after all. I can see that in the context of certain cultural beliefs and time periods that things may have once seemed much different. I can see that just like all ancient cultures, the Jewish people tended to see anything good happening as God acting on their behalf and anything bad happening as God punishing them. They didn’t completely understand the idea of chance or even some of our most basic scientific laws. I also understand that much of the Bible (particularly the old testament) was written down long after the events happened and just like with any society, centuries of oral tradition passed down can greatly change or exaggerate a story.

#4 – I can be a woman and not believe I am inferior or subservient to men. I can be married and have an actual partnership with a husband who respects me just as much as I respect him. I don’t have to feel bad about my gender because “Eve messed it all up”. I don’t have to believe that a woman’s body is something to be ashamed or afraid of. I can choose to be modest because that is what I desire, without judging every woman who dresses differently than myself. I can see how ridiculous the belief that women invite rape by dressing sexy really is. All of us have a responsibility to control our own actions and it is never right to blame our wrong actions on another. I can believe that all of us are born innocent and that it is our experiences, choices and actions that determine if we grow up to have a positive or negative influence on this world, not some curse put upon us all because of the bad choices of two humans eons ago.

#5 – Lastly, I am so relieved to leave the fear behind. The fear of never being good enough. The fear of always being evil at the core. The fear of trying to live a good life but still being thrust into hell for any unintentional mistake. I can look at life and people with the view that we are all different and will never see everything the same way, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t be compassionate to one another and work together to solve problems that affect us all. Without fearing so much about everyone’s eternal destination, I can instead focus on the here and now – on learning to love others unconditionally, healing the pain of the past so I can forgive & move on, growing spiritually and trying to give back to the world in positive ways whenever I can.