/*amazon_ad_exclude = "christian"*/ The Skin I Am In: I Wish...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I Wish...

I wish that I were wrong. I really do. While there's an element of satisfaction in having certain contentions confirmed, the greater truth is that it really does dishearten me that there isn't more honesty, more open discussion and more objective analysis involved in what are some of the most prevalent issues of our time. I wish more people would engage a realistic perspective in order to formulate realistic solutions to the modern concerns that plague American society, instead of blindly rattling off impractical ideals which developed two millennia ago in a vastly different time and place; or worse, neglecting that the issues exist at all because they do not coalesce with their preconceived notions. I wish more could realize the wrong-doing in their judgmental behaviors and realize how their attitudes too often forsake the very principles they so fervently claim to deem above all else.



I also wish to emphasize that I by no means classify each and every Christian to impose the issues I address. Whereas nearly every person I know, including many friends and nearly all of my family are Christians, I absolutely do not contend that they are a conglomerate of bad, malicious people! I merely wish there was more awareness to the undeniable effects religion has on the world, its societies, and its individuals. While I respect and understand those who find comfort in the spirituality religion provides them, what I will never understand is how so many are able to justify manipulating their belief system to fit their behavior, as opposed to the other way around. Disguising arrogant self-righteousness in a pious concern for non-Christians only fools fellow members of the faith.



Personally, I believe that good Christians are simply good people who practice Christianity. I do not believe Christianity breeds good people. I do expect that most individuals follow their faith for the right intentions; however, it is an unfortunate reality that many become brainwashed in their quest for answers and pursuit for peace. This is a multi-faceted phenomenon, but one contributing element is the inherent trust that is unquestioningly rendered to religious figures. Religious figures may be well-spoken, motivational, and many times sincere, but are nevertheless human and therefore biased by personal opinions and interpretations. Yet whether their message is right or wrong, they possess the uncanny ability to spin their words in a way which hypnotizes the congregation into obedience.



Another facet contributing to individuals becoming unwittingly conditioned is the practice of continually repeating the same ideas. Repetition is a proven persuasion method, which is often utilized in advertising because of it's effectiveness. As we repeatedly hear the same message again and again, we slowly begin to accept it as truth, especially when surrounded by like-minded people. With continuous exposure since birth to the same ideas, and little to no introduction to any other ideology, it is no wonder many people cling so tightly to their religious convictions.



On that note, I never set out to find hypocrisy in the church. I didn't want to find holes in the theories, or inconsistencies in the practices or sexist ideals in nearly every facet of the scripture. For heaven's sake, that was my foundation. That was everything I was taught to hold sacred and dear. I didn't just wake up one morning and decide to strip my Christian label, hence leaving myself out in the cold with few to turn to. As of today, there are less than a handful of people in my life who know how I truly feel.



As a result of the notable lack in religious diversity in this country, religious tolerance is also in short supply. People discovering that they are able to find fulfillment outside of Christianity tend to be grossly misunderstood. The Christian community is not reputed for it's gracious acceptance toward an individual who no longer wishes to pursue the religion. Resulting from this, as well as the previously mentioned multitude of circumstances, it commanded nearly half of my life and a great deal of soul-searching to deprogram myself from the immense guilt that I was conditioned to suffer for thinking that possibly this
isn't the
one and only truth prevailing over the universe!


I wish the devout, as well as the not-so, would understand that although I have stripped myself of the Christian label, I am no less valuable, no less moral, no less compassionate than I ever was. In fact, the only things that have changed within me have been for the better, such as a cultivation of awareness and acceptance.


I do confess. I, too used to have a preconceived notion about non-believers. I thought they were either ignorant or simply being defiant--rebels without a cause who just weren't interested in seeing the good in the world. In hindsight, I am flabbergasted at what an unfair, ignorant attitude that is! While I can't speak for all others, I know that my reasons for evolving into agnosticism are pure, sound, well thought out, and well-intentioned. In actuality, the logic is the very opposite of what fundamentalists would tend to argue. Contrary to Christian perceptions, I have not “lost my way.” I have found my way. For it isn't about rejection; it is about acceptance. It is about discovering what I believe to be a more rational, tolerant and healthier way of living. I have realized that without the parameters, rules, and bureaucracy of religion, I am able to live a better life—one with less prejudice, less condemnation, less hypocrisy, and all-around more joy. In the ultimate irony, by removing myself from the cult of Christianity, I am now able to live in a manner which more closely resembles the advocation of Christ.



My wish now is that others would appreciate and honor my convictions.




14 comments:

FLOOG said...

"Contrary to Christian perceptions, I have not “lost my way.” I have found my way. For it isn't about rejection; it is about acceptance. It is about discovering what I believe to be a more rational, tolerant and healthier way of living. I have realized that without the parameters, rules, and bureaucracy of religion, I am able to live a better life"

Once again, you have managed to express my personal feelings perfectly in a sentence.

Although I'm slightly different I guess, in as much as I was given a blank canvass by my parents in terms of learning and discovering my beliefs and feelings.

They encouraged me to think freely and I did so until my findings led me to my personal conclusions regarding religion, God and the bible.

You say so many things in this post and your last one that it's difficult for me to post a comment, as you have already written in far more eloquent and accurate (in my view) terms than I could add to with any degree of depth.

If there is one thing which irritates me, it is the arrogance of those who follow a religious path, and who patronise me with words of pity as though I am experiencing life in only three or four colours of the rainbow!

In my opinion I see the world in glorious technicolour and in far greater depth than they ever will, because I have freedom of thought, a true sense of realism and perspective and can form my opinions and actions without the constraints of religious ideology.

I treat everyone with respect and have both religious and non religious friends with whom there is no friction, nor animosity ever. Lively debates are par for the course and that's a good thing in life.

But offer your pity for this poor Heathen, and you'll find he bites!

An excellent post, and you are bang on the money with all of your observations in the eyes of this reader

FerdC ~ Crazy Medical Cases said...

Well done, BE! Actually, simply awesome!
And nice comments, Floog!
My favorite BE quote was, "I believe that good Christians are simply good people who practice Christianity." That nails it for me.

piebuko said...

My bestfriend's father was a bank manager. He spent his whole life working for the bank until a scam broke out which was apparently happening right under his nose and he didn't know it. Needless to say, he was fired and he lost everything -- his reputation and his retirement benefits.

Since my bestfriend and her siblings where still in college, the family was forced to sell their house and everything they owned to help them get through college.

My bestfriend's father lost his fate. He stopped going to Church and he stopped believing in God. He became so depressed and he was so clinically sick that he even stopped taking a bath!

Several years later, I saw him when I met my bestfriend for dinner. And he said that he is finally feeling better. He said, "What I realized is that once you turn your back to God, you have nowhere else to turn to."

I wonder what are your thoughts about that statement.

Nonna said...

Ah...true irony indeed. I, too, have felt that I walk on a path closer to what Jesus wished for mankind, than the path that Christians espouse. I think, sometimes, that he must be turning over in his tomb at the thought of how gravely astray Christians have taken his teachings.

And, the tunnel vision comment - Bravo! That's the perfect word for some of the experiences I've had. When my ex-husband and I split (we were non-religious as a couple), I found my spirituality (and a community to support me), and he found a woman and, consequently, an evangelical lifestyle. It has been contentious at times, to say the least, but the last straw for me was when they refused to set foot in my church for a dedication ceremony of our grandson because they believed it to be a "cult" because it didn't teach the "Glory of God!" Talk about tunnel vision! Their "way" is the ONLY way. Even when I tried to explain to them that Unitarian Universalism is not a cult, and historically can claim such members as Ben Franklin, John Adams, Clara Barton, Ralph Waldo Emerson, E.E. Cummings, T.S. Eliot, and on and on - it didn't matter, he still insisted we're a cult and that we're all going to burn in hell! How's that for tunnelvision?

I told him that I simply refuse to believe that a "loving God" would condemn 90% of its creations to eternal damnation simply necause they don't accept Jesus Christ as their saviour and the son of God! For crying out loud, how many of those "condemned souls" have never even heard of Christianity? And that's their fault? They're condemned to eternal hell for that? Oh Puuullleeeezzz!!! I didn't dare go into my beliefs that "hell" isn't actually real! :)

Thank you for the thought provoking posts, I really do enjoy them. And, here's the true irony; a devoutly Christian person is the one that connected me to your blog. I hope she doesn't see that as a failing in her mission. I'm thankful to her that she has connected me to a community of like-minded bloggers. And, from reading Angela's blog for many months, I believe her to be an open minded Christian who was truly trying to reach out and learn. It's inherent in Christianity to have the blinders on, it's taught that there is only one way. So the fact that she even ventured over here is a step in the right direction. I applaud her for her efforts even though the conversation didn't take the turn that I think she wanted. I'm sure it was a good learning experience for her as it was for me.

The Blogger Exposed said...

Piebuko-
Firstly, thanks again for reading and commenting. I truly do respect your values and appreciate your involvement!

Secondly, my thoughts on that are simple. Those who don't rely on religion find strength from within, from friends and loved ones, and from the will to live. God did not present himself to this man...this man was in desperate need of morale, and he forced himself to find it in the only way he knew how. Just like not believing in God, choosing to believe in God isn't tanglible; it is a perception, a choice.

The very essence of faith is having the will and the power within our minds to believe in something that not one of us can see or hear, but is far greater in spirit. People fail to realize that the human spirit is HUGE, for it is truly our source for strength, comfort, joy and perseverance. It is so much bigger than religious people sadly allow because they attribute all of the good in humanity to a supernatural deity.

There is much evidence to support the power of positive thinking. Regardless of faith, people who implement positive thoughts are able to reduce stress, alleviate pain, and encourage an overall state of well-being.

Out of curiosity, I just looked up similar topics and discovered that there is also direct evidence to love--referring to love between people--aiding in the healing process. (The two urls at the bottom can give more info if interested, & I'm sure there are better sites, I didn't look extensively into that.)

In addition, this statement made by Gerald Grow pretty much sums up my previous theory in the ability of human mind over matter (regardless what form the individual chooses to utilize as the source of positive thinking):

"Mental healers insist that, just as people can make themselves sick by the way they think, the way they think can make them well again. On a simple level, a person whose self-image has led to a destructive diet that has caused medical problems may improve the problem and the diet by changing the self-image--which is a way of thinking, an intention, a mental act. Psychologists teach people to improve depression by changing the way they think."

I came across many, many sites validating the power of the human mind to overcome adversity. Not one of the sites I read even remotely introduced religion into the picture. The articles were based solely on thought and the effects it has on neurotransmitters and our bodies.

On that note, I am now off to finally DO some yoga instead of just talk about it! :)


http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro99/web3/Bibbo.html#1

http://www.anac.org.uk/articles/positive_thinking2.htm

The Blogger Exposed said...

Nonna,

Thank you so much for contributing! Your comments about the other 90% going to hell is VERBATIM what I have been saying for years! Literally half of my life! In fact, I could write a lengthy post on that, and actually do have a partial post I wrote months ago regarding baptism. A major turning point for me (who was pretty much just following through the motions of doing what was expected of me) was when I got my daughters baptized. My younger one was only FOUR MONTHS old at the time and during a "pre baptism" meeting with the pastor, I challenged the purpose of such act, stating symbolism. After all, my child was an infant, simply acting on the instincts for survival and had never made a decision in her life; therefore, no God would turn her away from the "Pearly Gates."

But, oh contraire! Original sin, my dear.

That was the moment my mind said, "enough of this shit."

On a similar note, as posted in my other blog, I have a very close friend who is due to deliver a baby boy nearly any day now. They are aware that he has many serious problems, and the prognosis for survival is not good. She, too, is not religious, but is struggling with decisions to make in the event that he doesn't make it. We discussed having a religious figure to bless him, or give last rights, or whatever is traditional if necessary. I told her she needs to do WHATEVER it is she feels is right, or will give her comfort. But I also wanted reemphasize that by not doing it, the baby's fate will be no different...NO ONE can tell her that her baby will perish in hell because he didn't live long enough to be blessed!!

She completely agrees as she does not believe in heaven and hell either, and stated, "and if there is a heaven and they won't let him in, it's no place I want him anyway!"

Precisely.

.

Lori said...

We are SO like-minded on this topic! I continue to be flabbergasted that a country that was founded on the ideals of "religious freedom" remains so narrow-minded about it. "Religious freedom" should also mean freedom to choose NO religion.

The Blogger Exposed said...

Exactly, Lori!

As I said in one of my previous posts, instead of freedom of religion, I choose freedom from religion.

travis morgan said...

The Blogger Exposed said, "I have not “lost my way.” I have found my way. For it isn't about rejection; it is about acceptance. It is about discovering what I believe to be a more rational, tolerant and healthier way of living. I have realized that without the parameters, rules, and bureaucracy of religion, I am able to live a better life—one with less prejudice, less condemnation, less hypocrisy, and all-around more joy."

Perfect! lovely isn't it? Freedom from religion. :)

Floog said, "In my opinion I see the world in glorious technicolour and in far greater depth than they ever will, because I have freedom of thought, a true sense of realism and perspective and can form my opinions and actions without the constraints of religious ideology."

I couldn't agree more.

The Blogger Exposed said...

I must say that I am so happy to have found support and intelligent conversation with like-minded people for my untraditional beliefs in an all too traditional world. It may be of a virtual nature, but it is one full of insights and honesty, and frankly, it is far more real than the previous world I lived in ;) It feels so flipping wonderful to be openly expressing my true thoughts on the subject for the first time.

Keri said...

While I'm not going to be as wordy as some of these other commenters, I am offended by the fact that you can call Christianity a cult. How would you feel if I called agnosticism a cult?? You probably wouldn't appreciate it. While I enjoy reading about your views and lifestlye and trying to expose myself to other cultures and religions of the world, I am a Christian and believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven. So unless you appreciate someone calling agnosticism a cult, be polite and don't call Christianity a cult.
84% of the world who practices a religion, not necessarily Christianity would probably also be offended if you called their religion a cult just because you don't practice it. Only 16% of the world is agnostic.
Well, I've said my peace. Have a great day.

Lynn said...

It sounds like we've had pretty much the exact same experiences in both growing up and developing our own belief systems. (Shocking, huh?)

I look back to high school and realize that I thought the exact things you talked about in your blog. I respected that others could choose their own religion, but I 'knew' Christianity was better than agnosticism or atheism. I hoped all of my friends who weren't Christians would become Christians, and even encouraged a couple of them. But... it's too late to go back now, so it's just another learning experience that I can add to my collection.

The Blogger Exposed said...

Kerri,
Your comment provides that you lack an understanding of the nature of agnosticism and are unaware of all but one definition of the word "cult." Let me share a few of the definitions provided by dictionary.com:

1. a particular system of religious worship, esp. with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
2. A system or community of religious worship and ritual.
3. Sociology. a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.


Now let me explain that the basis for agnosticism merely holds that the existence of God is unknown and unknowable. Agnostics do not assemble, worship, or engage in rituals. It is not in any way, shape, or form a religion--it is simply the lack of religion.

Therefore, agnosticism clearly does not meet the requirements of a cult by your, or any conventional version of the definition while Christianity clearly does.

Karen ^..^ said...

This post encompasses every single thought I have ever had in regard to organized religion, particularly:

"My wish now is that others would appreciate and honor my convictions."

Why is it ok for Christians to bash what I beleive, but if I argue their beliefs, they tell me emphatically and self righteously that my beliefs are a lie? I would never presume to tell anyone their belief system was a lie. It is the pinnacle of arrogance and hypocrisy! This post was beautifully written, articulate, and made perfect sense. I will most certainly be back.