The Jesus Drug

Image result for Jesus drug

“Feel you when I’m restless, feel you when I cannot cope

You’re my addiction, my prescription, my antidote

You kill the poison, ease the suffering

Calm the rage when I’m afraid to feel again

 

You’re better than drugs

Your love is like wine

Feel you comin’ on so fast, feel you comin’ to get me high

You’re better than drugs

Addicted for life”


“Better Than Drugs” by Skillet was one of the many songs that permeated my young life, as did its message. The concept of Jesus’, or more accurately the Holy Spirit, as this thing that can make one experience a “high” is not all uncommon to many denominations of Christianity. Go into any Pentacostal-esque church and you will witness speaking in tongues (that is, gibberish speaking where those inflicted believe they are speaking in an angelic language), falling on the floor where they proceed to either go catatonic or writhe, moan in a strangely sexual way, weep, or laugh, and all sorts of ecstatic behavior.

In the teenage life of many Christians, the use of Jesus as a drug is more exemplified by the first line: “feel you when I cannot cope.” Turning to Jesus becomes an escape. When the teenage angst gets too hard, the answer is to pray, read the bible, listen to Christian music, or anything at all relating to God. To completely saturate oneself with the Gospel in anyway possible. And only the Gospel: only Christian music, only Christian books fiction and non-fiction, only Christian games, movies with only Christian values (we skip through any sexy scenes, btw). If someone got sick, we’d hold prayer meetings and saturate ourselves in prayer, so we’d learn quick that it’s not medicine that heals, it’s God. We’d have youth groups for teens where we’d get to unleash our pain to each other, and instead of giving advice, we’d lay hands on each other and pray. We’d get to cry, sure, but ultimately “give the pain to God,” have a worship session, and go home happy and drugged up.   

What happens when one goes without the drug? Does one go into Jesus’ withdrawal?

 

“I hate feelin’ like this

I’m so tired of tryin’ to fight this

I’m asleep and all I dream of is waking to you

 

Tell me that you will listen

Your touch is what I’m missin’

And the more I hide I realize I’m slowly losin’ you

 

Comatose

I’ll never wake up without an overdose of you

I don’t wanna live

I don’t wanna breathe

‘less I feel you next to me

You take the pain I feel

(Wakin’ up to you never felt so real)

I don’t wanna sleep

I don’t wanna dream

Cause my dreams don’t comfort me

The way you make me feel

(Wakin’ up to you never felt so real)

I hate livin’ without you

Dead wrong to ever doubt you

But my demons lay in waitin’

Tempting me away”

Christians would often call this withdrawal, as seen above from, again, lyrics from Skillet, “doubt.” There was one night in particular I will never forget when I put this song on repeat, and knelt in tears, singing/praying the lyrics over and over again. Every word I meant. It was one of my last cries of desperation in a stage of very deep, tormented doubt. I wept for hours, and I would again for many nights. It physically, mentally, and emotionally hurt like nothing I’ve ever felt.

You see, I was born an intellectual person. I always had an unquenching desire to know. When I was very young, this showed itself best in my little 6, 7, 8 year old self sitting during the worship service reading the Bible instead of singing the songs (which weren’t boring hymns like most churches, but the jump up and down kind). Instead of watching Veggie Tales and playing games in the little kids Sunday school, I got put in the big kids’ class where we read the Bible, memorized verses, and asked questions.

I did Christianity hard. By my teens I’d been baptised, in water and the Holy Spirit with manifestation of gifts of the Holy Spirit (tongues and prophesy), gone on a healing crusade where I “healed” people, read the Bible front to cover in multiple versions more times than I could keep track of, and started a Bible club at my High school by petitioning the principal of the school. I read commentaries, took notes in the margins of every bible I read, highlighted, did devotions twice a day, read and listened to everything by Dr. Dan Brown and got certified in Healing Ministries and Gifts of the Spirit through Kenneth Copeland Ministries. I consumed everything I knew to consume. And I believed, damn it. I loved Jesus with everything I was, with every atom of my being. I talked to him every moment and believed he talked back. I lead hundreds in the Sinner’s Prayer, personally. Jesus was my everything.

And then I got the call to ministry.

And I went to a federally accredited Christian college.  

And long story short- I read Richard Dawkins, Timothy Keller, The Dead Sea Scrolls, Socrates, Plato, Kierkegaard, Robert Wright, Christopher Hitchens, I read commentaries by Atheists, Jews, Agnostics, Muslims, and Christians of all types. I read the Bible in Hebrew. I read anything, and everything. I wrote my Pastor with questions, I wrote and spoke with my (very Christian) professors, I spoke with students, I typed on message boards and forums, I asked questions everywhere I possibly could. And one by one my doctrines came to be questioned by reason and logic until they all fell away.

And there I was at the end of it all, an Atheist with no Jesus drug to help me cope with the pain of my long untreated mental illness and dysfunctional upbringing, or to comfort me from the loss of friends and family who wanted very little to do with me now that I wasn’t a Christian. But that, not the doubt it self, was the withdrawal. All the pain, the loss, the “oh shit how do I cope now?”, was the coming down process.

I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but neither would I ever go back to the addiction. The addiction kept me blind from reason – from seeing two sides of the argument, not just one, and discerning for oneself, from seeing science and philosophy and logic and doubt and tasting it all -, from entirely healthy parts of life such as sexual exploration, love in all its forms, making mistakes, and living life to the fullest, and from proper self care, not faith [[ many sects have an irrational fear and/or outright contempt for psychology and all its medicinal help for people with mental illness]].

The Jesus’ drug culture is not healthy. When these two songs came on my playlist, because yeah I still listen to my old Christian stuff, I cringed. There is nothing ok with raising young people to seek a thing that does not exist to give it a placebo like high for all of life’s ills, and to drown their mind, senses, and psyche with nothing but that drug.

Just say no.

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What would you do if….? [Ghosts, demons, and the supernatural]

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So two oddly connected events, what-call-you, occurred over the past few days. After the first, I woke with this blog topic in mind. After the second, I knew I had to.

The first was a dream that got me thinking. In my dream I was plagued by this creature/thing/person who would appear at random once a month, and stab me with a knife in the fleshy part of my right shoulder and promptly disappear. After this happened a few times, I started seeking help from any one and any where I could, eventually leading me to some sort of spiritual leader. The words “I don’t care what I have to do, I’ll do anything” or something of the extent was uttered.

Upon waking, I was immediately thoughtful about it and thought to myself: “Huh. As someone who doesn’t believe in the supernatural, what would it take for me to seek supernatural/spiritual help?”

A day or two later, I was sitting on my couch doing something or another, snuggled in my throw, and started calling for one of my 3 cats to come cuddle. I look around and start calling, until I look into my bedroom where I see 2, unmoving, glowing eyes. Of course I knew this was one of my 3 cats, but the way they were reflecting were just very eery. Especially since the cat was not coming when called.

Well, I start looking around for my other cats and eventually two of them show themselves. I look back, the eyes are still there looking directly at me. I point it out to my husband, he agreed that they looked very eerie and remarks “I swear to God if it’s not Eva (the 3rd cat) we’re leaving this apartment.” We’ve come to a mutual agreement beforehand that if any bizzare, Paranormal type shit happened in our apartment we wouldn’t go the way of all Horror movies, and just leave the fucking place. I give a shy laugh, but after that kind of remark press him to check it out. Ya know, just in case.

So he gets up, looks in the dining room and says “…Honey? Eva’s under the dining room table…” My heart stops. “Are you serious?” “…Yeah…” I tell him to go look in the room. He takes his time, turns on the light….

And there’s Eva! My mind skips a little bit and I start “then who’s under the…” until I hear him laugh.

Needless to say, I was pissed.

However, it still got me thinking.

My skeptical mind disbelieves in ghosts, goblins, demons, and all the sort. But my agnostic mind keeps me open to possibilities, and to trust my own sensory experiences put to the test of reasonable experimentation. So in this case, yeah, if he turned on and off the light, we poked around on the patio, and the eyes remained very clearly and distinctly without a sensible material cause? We would’ve most likely gotten the hell out of there. But alas, there was a rational cause for what appeared to be very creepy: my cat.

So, reader, have you ever experienced something that you thought creepy but found a rational explanation? How about something that you never did get a reason for and scared you?

Do you believe in the supernatural? If not, what would it take for you to believe it and take drastic action?

Penny for your Thoughts?

Ryan Bell’s de-conversion surprises no one

For those not familiar with the recent headliner, Ryan Bell started trending a year ago after starting a blogging and personal experiment project titled “A year without God” which you can find here. He trended again recently after the big reveal of the conclusion being “I don’t think there is a God.” More on that here.

Surprising? Not really, no matter how you spin it.

To the Atheist, naturally, we see a God-less reality as reality. Thus, giving test to the truth leads to seeing the truth. Many of us have religious pasts as well, so we’ve been down that road of “exploring.” Some of our conservative denominational backgrounds would go as far as to see the exploration and doubt as bad, so wouldn’t lend much cognitive advice past “pray on it,” “it’s a faith thing,” or “keep your eyes on Jesus.”

To the Christian, the lure of the devil is sweet. Once you taste the fruit, it can be hard to turn back. This is why they push so hard to train their children to walk the path of righteousness. Furthermore, there are plenty a Bible verse that can be used here:

[they are those who] have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. Hebrews 6:5-6

But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven. Matthew 10:33

Then you have the theory behind my former blog post: believing is seeing, seeing is believing. Both were at play here. He gave Atheism a fair try, so he believed it for a year. This lead to seeing it as true, as he had to, to be fair to the experiment, believe it to be true for the year. Self-fulfilling. Works the same for many things: believe you’re fat, you’ll see yourself as fat. Wake up in the morning, look yourself in the mirror ever morning and call yourself stupid and I can assure you you will begin to believe it.

This begs the challenge:

Would an Atheist convert to Christianity/Judaism/Islamd/Ba’hai/Hinduism/etc if gone through the same experiment of a year trial?

Not quite the same, granted. Not all religions have a “believe and you’re in” clause. Judaism, for example, has (ironically) a year trial period where you study under a Rabbi before being allowed and given the option to officially convert. Also, traditionally, when asking a Rabbi to convert to Judaism, he will deny you 3 times to prove your ardor and sincerity before taking one under his discipleship.

But regardless, would it yield the same result?

What do you think? Think *someone* should try it out? What would make it different than a religious person giving doubt a run, or is it the same concept?

Morning Starts

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As I was having my cup of coffee before going of to work, I took the time to sit and flit through Facebook. The first I stopped to focus on was a page with short videos of Black Friday madness. A few videos in, I asked myself “I bet there are some holiday spirit-y things that happen on Black Friday….” and I know they do. Even from watching the crazy Walmart raids, you can see the people who are the peacemakers. Not yelling, pushing, patiently waiting behind the grab and run crowd for the next palette to come by.

When I sat in the car and flitted through the radio station, Pharrel’s “Happy” came on, and I don’t know many who can hear that and just not sense the happiness. I asked myself, “what if this was what I chose to start my day on?” I stayed in my head for most of my shift, and I ended up fully enjoying my day.

I’m one of those who do not own a TV service. I fully believe in staying away from the negativity spread through news. But it seems that the tendrils of negative focusing spans further.

What is it of us to have to share bad events as if they are something worth sharing? “Hey, did you see that video of that lady who got trampled on Black Friday?”  Sure, some things like catastrophes and horrors need to be known and discussed. But is there little great goodness to share in our feeds and conversation? Or is it that we don’t pay attention to it? We rubber-neck past a car accident, but don’t have eyes to see the man helping the elderly across a street.

I got to thinking (I think a lot, I know), when I was a Christian I did these things we call “Devotions.” The moment you get up, you grab your Bible, say a prayer to bless the day and ask that the Spirit speak through what is read, then read a scripture with the intention of finding something to continue the day upon. Honestly, what a healthy way to start the day! It provides structure to the day, a positive meditative start, and a willful conscious decision to continue the day in the same thoughtful stage.

Besides the religion itself, the practice is quite beneficial. Why not do the same with whatever one considers worth meditating on?

My thoughts for the day. A Penny for Yours? What do you think of daily “Devotional” time? Do you try to surround yourself with a positive, or at least “real,” perspectives? How?

5 Things I’ve Learned From Religion

I’ve gone from Fundamental Christianity, to agnostic, to new Atheist, and now to A-theistic A-gnostic. I use the hyphens in my current designation to bring attention to the basic meaning of the words. Basically, I don’t have a Theistic system I follow and I don’t claim to know jack.

I’ve gone through these phases by studying, reading, and conversing with leaders and followers of all types ( I call these ventures my field studies). After coming through all these titles to a less aggressive and open not knowing shit stance, I’ve had time to reflect, humbly and honestly, on what I have learned from religion.

1. You Reap What’s Been Sown

Ah, the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13) paired with “You reap what you sow. (Galatians 6:7). This was a favorite of my farmer-turned-Pastor’s weekly sermons. The farming metaphor was drilled so far into my mind that it will never leave.

But it’s a universal truth that can be applied to anything really. What our parents down into us, will we see bloom in our lives later on: be it abuse, wisdom, or neglect. Bad attitudes often sow negativity, and creates a harvest cycle of negativity. Hospitality and good deeds, likewise, brings the same when down and the individual falls into their own hard times; after all, we’re all more likely to help those who helped us, aren’t we?

2. Not all Religions/Denominations/People are ” Religious”.

We’ve all seen Atheists do this a lot in defense of the “Atheism is a religion too” argument:

religion (rɪˈlɪdʒən)

— n
1. belief in, worship of, or obedience to a supernatural power or powers considered to be divine or to have control of human destiny
2. any formal or institutionalized expression of such belief: the Christian religion
3. the attitude and feeling of one who believes in a transcendent controlling power or powers

Newsflash: Google, Webster, and Collins are not the gods of word meanings. Yes, yes, it’s a dictionary. But language belongs to those who are communicating. It’s a tool, a subjective one. Words change meaning at the drop of a hat. A “wall” now, when one “posts” on it, for example, almost always means FB now. Before FB, it spoke of people tacking things physically to a wall.

So no, not all religions fit all mighty Webster’s definition. Which leads to my next point:

3. Not all Religions believe in a God, or find it necessary to do so.

I learned this soon after jumping out of fundamental Christianity and into atudying. Ancient and Reform Judaism. Both give no clear definition of God, no face, no none metaphorical descriptive words. Ask a Jew, oftentimes what or who God is and they won’t give you a definitive answer.

Ancient Judaism (think Old Testament) is riddled with doubt and woes over the focal question we all ask at times “Where are you God?” Reform Judaism was best explained to me in books and from meeting with a local Rabbi. When told of my disbelief, he responded: “Judaism has always queationed, and these questions are encouraged even questioning the very existence of god”.

As far as Christianity, some follow the ” once saved always saved” doctrine. In this case, I’m still a Christian since I did the prayer and was “born-again,” as my family says: “I’m just on a journey.”

4. Religion has many assholes.

We’ve all met these, they’re everywhere. And no, they’re not exclusive to religion. However. When one goes into an honest search and quest to “find themselves” and meet such people it can and does deter many from the religion. Instantly. The wiser seekers will head my last point below, but when one keeps trying and finding nothing by condescending, holier-than-thou, fire and brimstone preaching, guilt tripping, damning, judgmental representatives of a religion…. Well, one can only take so much before they cross that religion off their list.

5. Fundamentals, Hate Groups, and Terrorist do not represent the entire religion.

This can be best exemplified with a modern example: NYC after 9-11. Almost every was out from a Muslim. The ridiculous profiling (often those profiled, not a Muslim at all) went hay-wire for a while.

Despite many Islam-haters interpretation of the Koran, many Muslims are very peaceful people who have interpreted THEIR (its their book, let them interpret how they want) Holy Book in a completely different fashion than the Terrorist we like to jokingly describe as strapping bombs to themselves.

The old adage reigns true here: ” Don’t miss the Forrest for the trees.” Many religions have a vast wealth of knowledge concerning culture, community, spirituality, and life wisdom. Don’t miss it.

What do you think of this list? Is it true? Would you add any or take any out?

Leave your thoughts!

Government under God

country and god

I try to live my life in harmony when possible and not pass judgement. However, I have a difficulty with individuals with this perspective. Especially Senators, or even candidates, which is where I got this image from. Mainly, for two reasons:

  1. How will a country under “God’s Word” handle nonbelievers, or other-god/goddess believers?
  2. Whose interpretation of “God’s Word” is to be followed?

How does the believer respond to those questions? How does the non-believer react to such admonishments? Could it ever happen?

Thoughts?

Atheists’s should kill themselves

kill yourself

I was partaking in a discussion on abortion when I realized I was arguing with individuals with set religious biases. It seemed necessary to clear the air concerning my own biases, so I set about explaining my perspective as an Atheist, and my view on abortion and life upon the assumption that there is no God.

The above image is a screenshot from a particular Christian I was opposing due to her constantly using “God said…” as the premise for her arguments.

I wasn’t mad at her. The truth is I have said similar things to individuals in an argument when I was a Christian. Many people still don’t believe that individuals can be so indoctrinated into their religion to really believe and say such things, but I can personally attest to it as true from having been one spewing it, and now the one to receive it on multiple occasions. It can be difficult for someone so in depth in the belief that there is a deity who loves and lives in commune with them personally, that there is any life outside of such a relationship. It becomes more than a crutch or a drug, it becomes everything and the whole universe shatters around them at the prospect of it not being real.

Thoughts? How would you have reacted? Can you understand it, or is it simply too bizarre?

The deeper question: My reaction to Nye vs Ham

Well, that's not very nice, God! :(

Well, that’s not very nice, God! 😦

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You can see the debate to which this post replies to here and my open invitation to discussion upon this topic here.
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As I listened to the above debate, I found my inner past Creationist Christian self erupt and lend an ear. It forced and coaxed me to recall and address one of the first and foundational issue that had lead me to my de-conversion into an Atheist. That key issue, is also what I boiled the foundational issue of this debate into:

Christian: I do know, and my source is God/Bible.
Secular: I do not know, let’s find out!

When I was a Christian, nothing could shake my belief that I was in a personal relationship with God. It was as real to me as the air I breathed, and I believed we were in commune. When I came across an unanswerable question, I turned to God and He answered it for me to me personally, usually through scripture.

There came a time, in my journey, where the answers from scripture became not enough for me. It seemed too easy, too circular, and too binding. I hungered and thirsted for more, as well as for observational proof.

Then, I encountered questions Science could not answer in my philosophical pursuits. “How did consciousness come to out of matter?” and the question of consciousness and self-awareness is one of the basic questions of humanity, and thus philosophy. Descartes, and many other philosophers struggled with the question of consciousness. Although Descartes built a foundational observation in his meditations “I think therefore I am,” it proves comforting, but hardly any sort of an answer to the question. However, science fundamentally, as Bill Nye said, exclaims: “I do not know, let’s find out!”

When I addressed this question as a Christian, the answer was simple: God breathed into man life.

Although I can not come up with an example right now (tired brain), there are other instances in which science will say it does not know (yet), and a Christian will answer by pointing to God, and accept when God provides no answer in His great mystery.

There came a time with my life, when I struggled with this. Both the not knowing, as well as with what became quite clear as a failed argument that ended with “therefore God.” To me, this was insufficient and a fire was lit under me to find for myself the answers. To search, dig, twist, question, and keep going until I could find. When this grew deeper in me (and also pointed itself towards questioning God’s existence), I had to ask my Christian self if God, if He existed, could punish me for my honest, curious, and deep curiosity. My Theology studies communing with my Philosophical studies, told me surely not. And so, my Agnosticism was born until it gave birth to a mostly certain Atheism.

Now, I stand on the side of Atheism and Science and question every Christian I encounter to prove it all to me. Give me an argument, give me proof that your claim is true. None has been sufficient enough for me, none stands the test of logic. To a Christian, this will never matter because God simply Is and He is the Foundation.

Although I am not shaken by this return to my own foundational questioning, as I had gone through this inner struggle for a long time and found my own questions, it raises many questions and issues that are not often addressed.

What are your thoughts? Can we start with God and continue onwards? Is this simply too illogical to do? Are you comfortable with your not knowing? What other questions does this raise?

A penny for every thought!