A personal, lifelong journey toward being Agnostic
This is one of the most difficult stories I have ever written, and it’s extremely personal. It pains me to write this, but I feel I must. Recent world events have broken the camel’s back. The more I wept for humanity, the more I realized I have lost my faith in God, gods, the justice system, government and any and all religion.
However, being raised a Fundamentalist Christian, religion is a difficult concept to reject, and the fear of consequences is very real. There is a level of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome that only people like me can relate to.
I was raised as a Lutheran, Missouri Synod, a very conservative sect of that church. It’s like being Catholic without all the fun (Catholics should be snickering at that). There were no Confession rituals so I had to carry the guilt around like a soldier. Onward Christian Soldiers?
I also attended Lutheran private school. Six days a week of indoctrination along with a confirmation and all the other rituals, like taking Holy Communion. During my time at the Lutheran private school, I was told crazy lies. Going to Hell and all the regular stuff Fundamentalist survivors talk about.
“Don’t believe the devil,
So the rib story brought my mother, with her British accent, into a shouting match with the principal, so loud she sounded like a hooligan at an English football game. Meanwhile, I sat in the administrators office with my head hung low.
As life went on, things grew very difficult. When I was 19, my father, an aerospace engineer for NASA died of heart disease at age 51. He was a quiet man who couldn’t speak about his work. That’s probably why he had a heart attack at 42.
I still miss his logical responses to my questions. He always said that the first chapter of the Bible was physically impossible. That helped. He took me and my siblings to the Griffith Park Observatory in Los Angeles several times to look through the humongous telescope and reminded us that those were the heavens.
“Don’t believe in excess,
I decided not to bring my son to church or Sunday school. I knew from experience how scary it is to have strangers tell you about eternal torment, demons, and what have you. Instead, I just bought an illustrated children’s Bible and read nightly stories to him. I saved the crucifixion of Jesus for when he was about four years old, but when I read it to him, his response was, “Oh man, I liked that guy.” Sort of like an action figure.
Later on when my son was about 10, WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) went mainstream. It became a joke between my son and I when bad things happened. However, the teachings of Jesus still resonated with him. We volunteered at the inter-faith food pantry where goods were collected from local churches and stored in the basement of a local synagogue. We went every Tuesday night and prepared 100 bags of groceries for under-privileged people to pick up Friday morning.
“Don’t believe in forced entry,
A month before our wedding, I found out that he’d had an affair with an ex-girlfriend prior to getting engaged. I figured that if that’s what he had to do to sort things out, so be it. My sister advised me to get over it. I still thought at age 39 that I had hit the Christian jackpot and that my father would be proud.
He ended up being a pathological liar, charming, but sociopathic, physically and mentally abusive, addicted to pain pills, alcohol, and porn. Not to mention he was totally irresponsible to boot. Whenever I wanted to do the “right thing” he fought me tooth and nail.
I finally left and it was the best thing I ever did. Basically, he used me to raise his sons. I will never regret that, since they have never been arrested, but the loss still haunts me. I didn’t give up my commitment to them until they had moved out of the house.
“I don’t believe in Death Row,
Since the “War on Terror,” I’ve had to reflect deeply. I couldn’t relate to things being said by the Bush Administration about our “Christian Nation.” They were ignoring that America was founded upon Religious Freedom. I watched Colin Powell present bogus evidence about Weapons of Mass Destruction to the United Nations. My heart sank, and stayed that way for three weeks. Next thing I knew there were troops not only in Afghanistan, but in Iraq. Why? They didn’t seem to have anything to do with the 9/11 attacks.
I wrote a story a year or so back called “George Bush Ruined all My Relationships” and he did. I tried so hard to hold onto faith in God, but things got worse and worse and worse. Politicians were quoting the Bible and saying that God had told them to do certain things. This resonated with a lot of Fundamentalist Christians, but not with me. I had never experienced anything like that, and couldn’t believe God was literally speaking to these people.
I just knew to not lie, cheat, steal, and to respect the 10 Commandments. I learned to be empathetic and charitable. Remembering the Vietnam war and Nixon, there was something about this dichotomy presented by Bush and his cronies that rang false. Yet many of my family and friends fell for it. These rifts between us turned to hate, and that is how I parted ways with many loved ones.
“Don’t believe them when they tell me,
Fast forward to the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Just another day, huh? The War on Terror has become a way of life here in America. The blame game is circular and never-ending. To alleviate the stress, I watched a lot of stand up comedians on Netflix. Bill Burr, particularly, was hilarious. One thing he said about religion was, “I try so hard to be good but what am I going to do? When I get to heaven and God plays a DVD of my life, I’m just going to have to tell him, you created this mess, why are you judging me?”
I love the teachings of Jesus. Basically, it boils down to help the poor and the needy. After the Midterm Elections, 92% of Congress say they are Christian. But I believe this is merely a show put on to garner votes. These people are not speaking from their hearts, nor are they true to the spirit of Christ’s words. They are the same as a crooked preacher, exhorting about the Gospel, all the while stealing money from the weak and the old. It’s sickening.
“Don’t believe in Goldman
Religion has been hell on earth for me. Friends tell me that Satan attacks Christians, and whatever else. This constant dissemination of their mythology only frustrates me. I have given up on all of it. I love myself too much to engage in this. I would rather walk an ethical path in elegance and grace.
Nobody has forced their beliefs on me or persuaded me to change myself except for Christians. I cannot buy into it anymore. I don’t believe the Bible. I don’t believe any other religion, nor am I interested in trying any of them out. I just know that people who constantly trumpet about their religion, regardless of what it is, are not for me.
Mind your own damn business. Leave me alone. I want nothing to do with any of it anymore.
“Don’t believe that rock ‘n’ roll,
I have lost all faith in God as defined by Fundamentalist Christians. I can look at the heavens and know that science explains some forms of creation. I believe there is a power greater than myself in that I cannot make a flower blossom, a tree grow, or a baby grow from a zygote into a person.
However, since I stopped believing that God is going to make everything alright, and started taking 100% responsibility for my life, I am happier. I don’t feel let down. I had been sabotaging myself that way. The reason why I am who I am is not because of anyone but myself. It is about being an ethical and honest human.
“Heard a singer on the radio late last night.
In the late 1980’s, U2 had a live album called Rattle and Hum. The things lead singer Bono said resonated with me and for over 20 years, I have taken the words to heart. I know he believes in God. but he doesn’t give in to the dogma. He has been a savior, because he calls out Christians on their bullshit. Bono inspired me to be an activist in my early 20’s, and I remain on that path.
“Don’t believe in the 60’s,
In closing, believe what suits you. I realized that religion and faith is not a crutch, it is a fairy-tale. A fairy-tale with a very unhappy ending. What does work is love. Love wins. It always wins, regardless of religion or judgment, ritual or voodoo. If I have a religion, it is Love.
“I feel like I’m falling