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November 15, 2007

losing my religion – part one

Yesterday was a very draining day, emotionally. And entirely internal to boot. Whilst perusing the interblag looking for anything of interest, I stumbled across a blog here devoted to atheism.

Edit: As you’ll read in the comments, the blog isn’t really devoted to atheism, so much as simply reconsidering Christianity and religion. If that makes any sense. The comment will say it better than I will. It is a very interesting community, regardless, for anyone interested. / edit

The initial article I read was a sort of Matrix comparison to losing your religion, and how the author sometimes wished they could go back and “take the blue pill,” which really struck me. Because I’ve felt that way sometimes, like the knowledge you gain can be harder to live with than the ignorance you’d had before. So I subscribed to the blog and kept reading, finding lots of interesting articles like one describing the stages of grief in losing your faith, and one discussing whether sin is real or not.

It was all very interesting, especially going into it from a non-atheist perspective. But then somewhere in the middle there, I lost it. I literally lost my faith. Poof. I found myself agreeing way too much with what was written and recalling my own personal reasons for doubt. The ride to my grandparents for dinner was a quiet one on my end as I speculated this. Not thinking, I’d put in my favorite Christmas mix, one I’d compiled myself last year. Do you realize how hard it is to listen to Christmas music at a time like that? I cried. Hard. Especially, after listening to “Mary Did You Know,” an absolute favorite of mine. How had I betrayed myself? What would Mary think of me? Somehow with all of the honorable figures in the bible, Mary and also Mary Mags were always the ones I connected with most. But if Christianity weren’t even true, then Mary was no more special than Scarlett O’Hara. But that’s not true.

At some point, I made the mental decision to start from scratch, thinking about everything I do know and believe, and try and figure this thing out. I really could not deal with the idea that all of this came from nothing. Looking at street signs, I thought, “a person made that.”Looking at my son in the backseat, I acknowledged that I had made him, my mother me, and so on. A tree exists because somebody (either a person or Mother Nature) planted that tree and cared for it. Everything has a creator. How could the earth or the animals or people just be here for no apparent reason, with no creative hand involved? For that matter, why should we have feelings and emotions and the need for structure and meaning in our lives, if we had simply just appeared here one day. Yes. I believe in a creator. It just makes sense to me.

But that creator could be the illusion of a person, giant Gods in the Heavens playing chess, or a matrix of dot slash dots in the stars. If you feel the need to dress That Being in a funny hat or give it a name that you can relate to, I think that’s fine. But you could also just think of it as a Greater Thing. Something Bigger Than All of This. I think in some way, we’d all be right. The Jews, the Arabs, the Christians. All right, but all wrong. Because to me, the idea of “knowing” is absurd. We cannot know God without dying, and we will not be back to tell the tale. I know that may be tough to swallow, but I believe it to be true.

So then there is Jesus, and Mary, and Mary Magdalene. People that I am fairly sure that history has proven existed. People who did important things, regardless of what really lay behind it. A mother who lost her son because he was wonderful but believed himself to be something that was prosecutable. A man who led a good life, was good to just about everyone, and wanted to share joy and happiness with the world. And died for it. And people who got in the way. These, if anything, are proof of the danger of religion. People are very unforgiving when it comes to their faith. They will kill to protect it. And somehow that seems to justify the means. But it’s not okay to me. Because I still see “religion” as a way of controlling society, and although I DO think there is a need for that, I do not think that killing and discriminating is ever okay. The idea that God’s Chosen people would kill his only son, and then brag about how much God loves them is absurd and disgusting to me. Repent but rejoice. Lie and steal and then say you’re sorry. Heaven? Hell? We’ll never know if they are real until it is too late.

The real purpose of faith, to me, should be nothing more than what keeps us going and reminds us of right and wrong. There is a reason for all of this, but life is short. Enjoy it. Spend every minute you can persuing good and not wasting time on evil. Because, personally, I think that when you die, you are dead, you turn to ashes, and some soft voice whispers The End, because it is. You get one shot. One once upon a time. One story. And trust me, that is not easy for me to type, because truthfully it’s not an answer I like. I’d rather believe in reincarnation. But I don’t. And if there is a heaven, I will be thrilled. But I’m not going to count on it, but rather assume this is really it. Just in case.

So, where does this leave me? Ironically, at pretty much exactly the same place I was the day before, but now with conviction! It’s almost anticlimactic, but at the same time, reassuring. I am moving ahead, and I am not done. And that is okay. I can say with a good degree of certainty that any notion of Christianty has left me. And that no other religion will be taking it’s place. I still feel for Mary and Mary Mags, but as real people whom I can admire and mourn, just like Scarlett or Cleopatra or my grandmother. I still like angels, because I still like Santa Clause even though I’m fairly sure that he, too, was a story told to make our children behave (where as God asks that the adults behave also). My goal now is to be a good daughter, granddaughter, wife, mother, friend, woman, person. To enjoy my life and not take it for granted. And to keep thinking about this religion thing when I have the time, but to never let it consume me. Because it’s never really healthy to dwell on the things we cannot control.

2 Comments »

  1. Hey Betty, thanks for viewing our blog. I genuinely hope that you continue to search for the truth as, at least according to this article, you have. The continual conclusions we come to can be as stimulating as they can be torturous. I hope you keep on visiting us, even if (or especially?) it strengthens your own convictions.
    I just want to clarify that our d-C community is not devoted to atheism or a place for atheists to bash Christianity. In fact, the majority of contributors at de-conversion are not atheists. That may sound defensive, but sometimes it is important to clarify these things. I have been studying atheism as a religious studies student for some time and have only come to two conclusions: that there isn’t enough evidence for or against atheism and that atheism is not, in any way, a religion (no matter how “devout” Richard Dawkins is).
    You seem like you are a truth-seeker. If this search leads you back to Christianity time and time again, I am more than happy for you! Our website is meant for people exactly like you. We target “skeptical Christians” – this is not necessarily only for people who are “skeptical of Christianity,” but rather people who are willing to ask the really hard questions and not be satisfied with cliche responses.
    Shalom.

    Comment by Thinking Ape — November 15, 2007 @ 2:29 pm

  2. Betty, this is a beautiful post. Your honesty, insight and willingness to stretch beyond what you’ve always accepted are admirable. It would be nice if I could believe the good parts of Christianity and pretend that the bad ones just are not there. But I can’t. I tried, but I just can’t do it anymore. Keep searching, questioning, reading, learning and growing. Like you, I would love to believe in eternal life in heaven (if only that doggone hell thing weren’t the other side of that coin!), but I can’t. My solution is to make the most of this life because, as far as I can tell, it’s the only one I’m ever going to have.

    Comment by ESVA — November 15, 2007 @ 4:09 pm


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