Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tough Decisions

Today marks three beautiful months that I've been dating my best friend. :] I know that's not very long, but he and I have been an inseparable force since middle school so I'm allowed to be a big sappy sap over this.

Since I finally came to the conclusion that I'm an atheist, I've had to do some tough things. As many of you who've deconverted from theism know... it's about the farthest thing from easy, especially if most of the people you know--most of the people you love--are theists. But you know what? I've done the hard things anyway because I've recently developed an extremely low tolerance for bullshit, especially the bullshit that spews out of my own mouth. I believe I can thank my atheism for that, haha.

So I sucked it up, and I told my hardcore Christian best friend that I didn't believe in god anymore. And yeah, sending him a Facebook message to let him know was probably a bit of a cop-out on my part, but hitting that send button was freakin' tough. And I did the same thing to the college minister to let him know that I was utterly incapable of continuing my involvement with the college ministry's leadership team. And it sucks, because I feel like I'm burning bridges... but that's definitely better than lying to myself and to everyone else.

I straight up tattled on my sorority for hazing. The new girls were being physically, mentally, and psychologically tortured by the old girls. And there it is again: that BS that I'm not gonna put up with any longer.  NO ONE deserves to be treated like that and no one should have to prove anything to some snooty witch with a god-complex.

I'll say this for myself: since I've embraced my atheism I've grown a pair. >:] And I like it!

Last night when all of this went down, I felt so alone. I laid down in my bed and thought about how easy it would be to believe in god, that me ratting out my sisters was part of god's "divine plan for my life," and that his hand was on me in my time of need. I fell asleep kind of upset.

When I woke up this morning I felt amazing, because you know what? I made the right choice, on my own. I didn't have to lean on god for support, I didn't use the "divine plan" cop-out as my reasoning to make a hard choice. I made a hard choice because I thought critically about what was going on (hazing), who was being hurt (innocent girls who are stressed enough already), and the best way to fix the problem (report it to someone with more power in the organization than myself).

So, you know what?! BAM.

Sorry if this post seemed a tad... angry, I'm just so full of feelings! :]

Monday, January 10, 2011

Encouraging Doubt

A little bit of great news: I have a job interview on Friday at Subway. :] There's just something about having a job that makes me feel like my life isn't a total waste haha... and, well, I need the money cause I have to pay a speeding ticket. Yeaaah, anyways...

I've found that in the mere two months that I've been an atheist, my worldview has been seriously altered (surprise!). Back when I was a Christian I used to think that atheists lived in this Alice in Wonderland-esque state of mind, seeing the world upside-down and backwards and generally ignoring all of the signs that blatantly pointed to god.

Well, now that I'm an atheist firmly grounded in reality, I've come to realize that Christians are the ones with skewed perception... especially when it comes to doubt.

I've struggled with doubt all my life. In my Christian days, I swore up and down that doubt was Satan's way of digging his claws into my otherwise pious and faithful mind. People say that the voice of god is a small, still voice... well, in my case, God was loud and raucous and a bit of an attention hog, and reason was the small, still voice.

"There's no way God is real." The voice would say quietly in the middle of worship or prayer, and I'd brush it off almost immediately. This went on for a year and half into my "serious Christian phase," until finally I could ignore the voice of reason no longer. I finally realized that my doubts weren't Satan, they were... natural human curiosity.

I wrestled with the church's ignorance of the "tough" questions. Does God exist? Did he create the universe? These are questions the church should be dying to address! What else is going to bring atheists to our side?

I realized soon enough that the church ignored these questions because the answers are remarkably in favor of atheism. Then I started doing the research that eventually led me to become an atheist.

Doubt is a great thing. Galileo doubted that the earth was the center of the universe. Darwin doubted the earth was "intelligently designed." These are just two of the most obvious examples, but they make my point: doubt leads to discovery. Question everything. Don't be satisfied by half-answers or avoidance of the question (which the church is notorious for).

"Let the human mind loose. It must be loose. It will be loose. Superstition and dogmatism cannot confine it." -- John Adams

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Secret to Christianity

The first post of my new blog! :] I've decided to share a story with you guys, from a simpler time. I was a starry-eyed kindergartner, finally old enough to sit with the grown-ups at "big church," when I discovered the secret to being a good Christian. Read on, my friends!

When I was a little kid we went to an Assembly of God church. Now you might be familiar with the Assembly of God folks as "the ones who are crazy but not Pentecostal crazy," and I'd say that sums it up pretty accurately. The Assembly of God churches are part of the charismatic movement, so there was a lot of jumping up and running around and full-on praisin' the Lawd during Sunday morning services at my childhood church.

I accepted Jesus into my heart when I was five, right before naptime one day, so technically I was a Christian. But one morning when I was sitting in church and watching all the people get their praise on, I realized that I wasn't a very good Christian.

I was missing something.

I tried for a long time to figure out what it was. Maybe I should jump up and down? But the old ladies in the front don't jump up and down, they just cry. Maybe I should cry? But the jolly jumping beans over there weren't crying... what was I overlooking?

Then the preacher said something that a whole lot of people liked. Well, he screamed it actually. That preacher was a type I like to call the "screamer." About halfway through his sermons he'd get so worked up and flustered that he just started shouting his key points (which were usually of the hellfire and brimstone persuasion) and making emphatic gestures with his arms. So, red-faced, the preacher screamed something that a whole lot of people liked. I'm sure it was something along the lines of "Yarbaflargh Jesus blah sinners yadda BURRRN IN HELLLLLLLL."

The old ladies lifted their hands and shouted "Amen!" The jumping beans did a synchronized "YAY Holy Spirit leap" and yelled "Amen!" Even some of those lukewarm fence-straddling blasphemers who always came in late and sat in the back murmured it. "Amen."

... Aha!

The secret to being a good Christian... was saying "amen."

From that point on, I was like the best Christian ever. The typical Sunday morning following my discovery went something like this:

Preacher: "Welcome to church everyone!"
Me: "Amen!"
Preacher: "Let's pray!"
Me: "Amen!"
Preacher: (Prays).
Congregation: "Amen!"
Me: (a little bit late) "Amen!"
Preacher: "Do we have any announcements?"
Me: "Amen!"

And so on and so on. My skill at Christianity amazed even myself. Even now that I'm an atheist I've probably still got some Jesus points racked up from the sheer number of times I said "amen" back in the day.

Now that I'm older I understand that I was being indoctrinated... I mean, if something is repeated to you enough times, drilled incessantly into your head, then you're going to believe it even if it's not true. Indoctrination is a terrible thing to do to a child. But... I was lucky. The most I got out of my childhood indoctrination was a handful of funny stories. Definitely no lasting negative effects, except for a lingering fear of Hell that has long since disappeared. :]

What about you guys? Were you indoctrinated as a child? How did you process religion when you were so young?