Losing My Religion

broken-crossI remember it well. I had been a Christian since Oct 13, 1984. Billy Graham came to Vancouver and I was one of the last people that went down to the floor and “gave my heart to Jesus”. (BTW, I always hated that term, as, over the following years, I never found any theological basis for it.) I poured my heart and soul, and a hell of a lot of tears into the church over the next 24 years. Went to Bible college. Found who I thought was the woman God had given me to marry. Did the Pastor thing for a few years. Struggled with some things and was forced to leave ministry. (BTW… That marriage should have ended after six months. We slugged it out over 15 years because, you know, being ‘good Christians’ and all that… )

Once the marriage ended in a very messy divorce, my home church really supported me.

I did well spiritually for a while. Then things got ugly. I never thought donating a church library would cause such a shit storm!

I made the decision to move back to the West Coast. I wasn’t even going to go to the church my last Sunday in that prairie city, but someone called and said that people really wanted to say goodbye since I had been there from the start of it and had contributed much. I agreed to go. It was “nice”, in the sense that whatever nice in quotation marks means.

As I left that morning, a “leader” that had happened to be my “best friend”, that had apparently had major issues with me over the past few months of my time there came running out to me as I was set to drive off. His parting words went something like, “Well, it’s been good hasn’t it?”

My parting words, “You were supposed to be my best friend and you put me through hell fr two months because of your own insecurities! Fuck You!” Or words to that effect. Once I left there, I knew my life would never be the same.

I moved back to the small West Coast town near Vancouver where I grew up. Where I first started my Christian journey. But, as they say, you can never come home. I tried to do the church thing when I got here. I found a church as close to the Vineyard as I could, because I really did love, and believe in that style and concept. I found my heart wasn’t in it. I had nothing in common with these people. I spoke with a good friend, who happened to be a former pastor of mine’s wife. I said, “I have really tried for 24 years to do this Christian thing. It hasn’t worked.”

Her response was so amazing and gracious. “Then you need to try something else.”

That moment was so freeing. That was the point I left. I left the Church. I left Christianity behind. I can’t say it was easy. My oldest daughter has decided she wants nothing to do with me. There have been guilt induced thoughts of, “What if I am wrong? What if THEY are right? What if HELL is real and awaits me when I die?” Then I read the news about what is going on in the world, and realize, war, terrorism, and all that, is done in the name of one religion or another. Religion. God. Bullshit.

The social aspect was the hardest. Losing friends that I can no longer relate with. But that’s all church is when I think about it. A social club. A bar for religious folk. A bar where the Jesus Juice flows. I have had my fill of Jesus Juice, thank you.

 

How To Defeat Extremism

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Yesterday, something amazing happened in Paris, France. In response to the senseless slaughter of twelve employees of Charlie Hebdo, three million people gathered together to show the extremists that freedom cannot be defeated by those that would seek to impose their narrow views upon the rest of us through the barrel of a gun. What is notable about these three million people is that they were Muslim, Jew, Christian, those of many other faiths and those of no faith. Most notable among those three million gathered? The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, and President of Palestine,┬áMahmoud Abbas putting aside their differences in a show of solidarity against these extremists. While this was not without controversy, and some political motivations, at least it’s a start.

Whatever motivations these three gunmen had – ultimately to spread terror and fear – has backfired. Hopefully this represents a shift in the collective consciousness of humanity. You see, those three million people were not standing as individuals, but as one. For one moment in history, there were no Muslims, no Jews, no Christians, no atheists. They human beings standing together as one.

Defeating extremists and extremism in all its ugly forms will take more than one rally. I believe education is one of the keys. Religious leaders of all faiths educating their followers of the pitfalls and dangers of extremism. Those of us who profess no religious faith are not immune to our own brand of extremism. Atheist writers have become known for ‘stirring up the pot’ when writing about religious faith. This type of rhetoric from all sides does nothing to solve the issues.

Hopefully, the Paris rally, and similar rallies held around the world have sent a clear message to those that would attack freedom loving people everywhere! You are neither acting on behalf of your God, nor are you acting like civilized human beings.

Peace!