One of the most difficult things I have found in the transition from Christian to deist is my loss of my surety. As I often do, I’m going to beef about the kind of Christian I was. This doesn’t mean all Christians are like this. It’s just what it looked like to me when I was there.
When I was a Christian, I was so sure, so certain. Let me give you a list of the things I knew better than the people in charge of them
(1.) Global Foreign Policy: We needed to stop being the policeman of the world and fix our own problems.
(2.) Welfare: We need to stop paying people not to work
(3.) Penal system: We need the death penalty, harsher prisons and harsher sentencing.
(4.) Drugs: Drug dealers are the most evil people on earth.
(5.) Budget: we should balance the budget like a checkbook. The Government doesn’t need debt.
(6.) Immigration: We should turn back the Mexican immigrants by force.
(7.) Science: Scientists are really not that smart. Once a person believes in evolution, they’ll believe anything. They are therefore also wrong about: the hole in the ozone, man made climate change, spanking’s effect on a child’s psyche, and saturated fat.
This is just a sampling of the things I believed. In retrospect, I am amazed by my ignorance. Since the Bible was authored by God, it could not be argued with. I had read and studied the ultimate source of human knowledge, thus I was privy to divine secrets that other folks were not.
I am just staggered by my audacity. The last three years or so, I have remained as passionate about the issues of welfare reform, government, and economic policy as I always was. I read maybe 10 or 15 books a year on each these subjects. And I still don’t have many answers.
I am at the point of education when one finally knows enough to merely phrase the questions.
Back in the day, it would never even occurred to me to that maybe, just maybe, people who have dedicated their lives to understanding the best way to design, say a modern government budget, might know just a smidgen more than I do about the job.
When I was a Christian, I shot my mouth of about subjects I didn’t understand. I did so because I truly believed I did understand. After all, didn’t I know what the Bible said about it? Now, if an opinion is important me, I establish it very carefully after months of studying peer reviewed documents, and their source documents.
Humility is…”the defining characteristic of an unpretentious and modest person.” Humility, like most components of character is not revealed in what one says, but what one does. Isn’t it more humble to spend months in careful study reading many authors conclusions, and checking their source documents than to assume that you were correct about what book God wrote and quoting it wherever applicable?
Proverbs 11:2 “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” So, aren’t I more blessed with wisdom as deist then I was as Christian, since I am more humble?
I think most theists believe that there is a magic invisible line that cannot be crossed, a sort of free-will disengage where an atrocity becomes large enough that God steps in. I think the belief in this is what keeps otherwise skeptical people in the Fold. It’s terrifying to believe that 2,999,999 could die before God takes notice, but somehow the reassurance He will step in with that last death, innocent number 3,000,000, is more comforting than believing He just watches.
It’s as if God declares a Kingdom Emergency of sorts, says “Alright, thats it. No more freewill till this evil is done.” Then the bad guys get what’s coming to them, and the process of rebuilding can begin. This can’t start right away, though. A fair number of innocents have to die before the conditions are met to turn off freewill.
The Bible, of course, says absolutely nothing like the above, but I think it is something that people cling to at some instinctive level, that God must have, in his mind, a line, which if crossed, opens a can of divine whoop ass.
To accept that there is no God, or at best an indifferent one, a person must accept a multitude of new beliefs and one particularly scary one is that there is no magic line. There is no point God says “Enough”. The the honest godless must believe that there is no limit, no bottom to which man can sink. Ironically, the godless must believe in sin nature more sincerely than the Chosen, because the godless don’t believe that God will step in at any point.
If God was going to step in, I wonder why 5,999,999 Jews were fair game, but number 6 million caused the righteous judgment to fall. I wonder why between 2.2 and 3.5 million died in the Holodomor famine between 1932 and 1933 and then God didn’t overthrow the oppressive regime that murdered them until 1991. I wonder, if abortion is truly so odious to God, why he allows 42 million a year.
The fact is, regardless of what you believe about God, it’s pretty obvious that there is not, in fact, a freewill disengagement point. People can do pretty much whatever they like. Nothing will prevent you or stop you.
So what is the difference between a God who cannot act, one who will not act, and one who doesn’t exist at all?
So here it is. Yet another blog about sex. Let’s go waaaaay back.
Since I was a kid, I always knew that woman were somehow special and different. I also knew that I wanted to something special with a female, even if I was too young to understand exactly what that meant. I watched and heard my parents fight constantly, which sort of led me to the idea that men and women think very differently.
Around the age of eleven or so, I felt like the one thing I needed in the world was a girlfriend. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to get laid as much as the next adolescent, but I didn’t want to just have some lousy sex with some girl. I wanted a girlfriend, with drama and hand holding, and disapproving parents; the whole nine yards. As I mentioned just above and many others times on this blog, my parents fought constantly. This put me in a ticklish situation. I really wanted a woman in my life, but I didn’t want to be treated the way my dad was treated.
Also around the age of eleven, the Church begins to notice her daughters are getting boobs, and her sons are casting longing glances at the girls and spending a suspicious amount of time alone. The quest to be loved and desired are enormously strong forces on human beings, particularly strong in the high school crowd. The Church knows this and begins building a lens for you, through which you will view the human sexual experience, lest anything you see lead you away from her. (I note here, other people grew up indifferent sects than I did, so I can only speak for the lessons I learned as a Dobsonite.)
1. God made sex
2. He made it to be fun
3. He made it as a special blessing only for married people, just as kids are special blessing only for married people.
They start teaching this around the time you are twelve. Now, it is made clear to you that sex is only for married people. It is also made clear to you, that only married people get to think about having sex. ( But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Math 5:28 ) So, now you have a problem. You have an physiological need to think about sex constantly, and a subculture that tells you that doing so is sin. Sin of course, is that which makes God (who loves you) sad. He loves you, but hates sin. You have this thing that you want to do, want to think about, want to see, but everytime you even think about it you are hurting the person who loves you most in the world.
Around this time (11 to 13) I was encouraged to read I kissed Dating Goodbye. The basic premise of which is that one is single for a purpose, and one should enjoy being single. When you meet a girl, just try to be her friend. Get to know her as a person rather viewing her soley in the context of someone-who-can-meet-my-needs. It’s good advice for anyone, Christian or otherwise, but it also has this to say: Since God has a perfect plan for you,with one perfect person, smooching, holding hands or even having emotionally charged conversations with anyone but the person you marry is taking something away from your future spouse. In short, while hand holding, and moonlight walks with a girl you don’t marry may not be per say, adultery, it’s different by degree and not by nature.
I dealt with this the way many of my peers did. We started thinking about marriage. There was no other context in which we could think about sex, or even intimacy, so we thought about marriage. Specifically, we began to prepare for marriage, in any way we could. Many of us were further validated in this preparation by this verse: Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. 1st Cor: 7 8-9. Didn’t we burn? Didn’t we want sex? Only one answer for it then, get hitched. It was this mindset that made my wife, at the age of 15, cry herself to sleep. She didn’t have a boyfriend, and if she didn’t have a boyfriend by the time she turned 16, how could she possiblely get married straight out of high school?
So, to sum up so far, I hated my parents marriage, but I wanted to get married on my 18th birthday if possible, because that was the only way I could have sex without breaking God’s heart. I took the Bible and my religion very seriously, so doing things God’s way was very important to me.
The only form of sexual release I could have without guilt was “preparing for marriage”. My father and mother seemed to have a lot of misunderstandings , and the common cultural message was, “Men don’t understand women.” So, around the age of thirteen, I made understanding woman my secondary purspose for existence. I read Cosmo, Redbook, Child, Family Circle, Woman’s Day, Good Housekeeping, Woman’s World, and just for good measure, Ms., and Seventeen every month at the library. I watched soap operas for many months (Hating every second of them, by the way). I read the best of Harlequin Romances from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. I got college text books on gynecology. I read every two-bit quack who could string enough sentences together to write a relationship book. I read everything the Merck Manual had to say about sex and gender.
I became an expert listener with fantastic advice to give. Throughout highschool, I was surrounded by a cloud of woman of all sizes and shapes. They joking called themselves my harem, and came to me whenever they were sad, or lonely , or needed a back rub. They came to me for any relationship need they had, except a real relationship. I was the guy they called when their boyfriend broke up with them, but when they actually wanted a boyfriend I guess they preferred someone who knew less about yeast infections than they did.
This resulting in a increasing sense of bitterness and confusion about women. According to the all the bullshit I was reading, I should have been exactly what woman wanted, but for some reason I wasn’t. Over the years, I mellowed. I got married, I figured somethings out. I grew up some, but female sexuality still confused me.
Obviously, the Church creates conditions where you are not supposed to do certain things. But she also creates conditions in which you are not supposed to feel certain things. Of course, no one can really control what they feel, only what they do about those feelings. Remember the book 1984? By changing the language, the government sought to keep people from feeling certain things, because without the words, how do produce the thoughts in your own mental dialog, and how would you even think something. Similarly, In the Church certain conversations are forbidden. There were few woman I could talk to about female sexuality, and those woman experienced sexuality purely through the lens the church had given them. Neither I, nor the women I talked to, could feel certain things or talk about them, so I stayed confused. I guess we all did.
I have few friends in the Church now. Most of my friends are Deists, Agnostics, and Atheists. There are no limits on what I can feel now, and the only limits I have on what I can do are the ones I choose. (A note here, that doesn’t magically remove the consequence of my behavior, it just means the plain ol’ consequences are what motivate or de-motivate me and not fear of eternal punishment.) So I have been having some very frank conversations about sexuality with my close friends.
I’ve come to a startling conclusion about men’s and woman’s sexuality: Baring bogus cultural values, human beings experience sexuality in almost exactly the same manner; we all just want to be loved. Slightly different things make us feel loved, but we all just want to be loved.
There is no huge dichotomy between the male and the female sexual experience. We all want to be loved, and we all want have sex with some one we care about, and occasionally, but not most of the time, we all just want to get our freak on with whoever.
Now, I know some people will say that guys want much more of the latter, and much less of the former than woman do. I don’t think so. If guys are so promiscuous, who exactly are they promiscuous with? The same 100 woman worldwide? It takes a man and woman to have sex, folks. If men are unfaithful, so are women.
I think guys have an image to live up to. I have an acquittance who fell asleep at a titty bar. He talks the talk, he looks at porn, he goes to strip clubs, but I have to say, if he falls asleep on the bar he’s going for reasons besides titillation. He’s going because it’s a cultural norm.
Woman also have an image to live up to. Woman are supposed to like cuddling and hugging. They are supposed to like sex when it is part of a loving relationship. They aren’t supposed like sex for the pure experience of it, that’s slutty. So woman have a cultural norm to live up to as well. (My favorite example of this cultural norm stuff is Domestic Discipline. It’s pretty obvious to everyone but the practitioners that DD is a way for conservative Christians to get into erotic spanking [and whole slew of other sexually free behaviors], but do so in away that lets them fit it within their cultural norm.)
I think in a perfect world, men would just be men, and woman would just be woman. Men wouldn’t have to prove their manhood by acting like they want sex without strings, and woman wouldn’t have to prove their femininity by acting like they don’t ever want sex without strings. We could all admit that most of the time we want sex with somebody we really care about, and occasionally we just want to get thrown down by someone we barely know.
Knowing all this, I have a lot more peace about who I am, and the thoughts that go through my mind. I don’t have the bitterness against women that I used to because I no longer see them as failing to meet a certain standard. As is often the case, a godless perspective brings me more peace than a Godly one.
To all my conservative friends…
3/4 trillion dollar bail out, or subsidized insurance and loans.
Look me in the eye and tell me your party believes in a free market.
The United States maintains a military presence in Japan. The Navy, in particular, has kept a ship docked at Yokosuka (about 30 miles from Tokyo) for several decades. The USS Kitty Hawk is being decommissioned and replaced with the USS George Washington, according to this article.
So, I’ll start first with the really poor journalism
The demonstrators say the ship poses a threat to Tokyo because of the possibility of an accident in its nuclear reactor. They also are opposed to the increase in sailors who will be deployed to Yokosuka as a result of the ship swap, and say the carrier could make Yokosuka a target if hostilities break out between the United States and another country
WOW! All the demonstrators were interviewed en mass and in what must surely be the world’s largest choral response, said the above. What a crock of crap. We can’t verify that this was said at all, let alone by demonstrators, because there is no person or organization named. This is totally unverifiable.
We should not have a nuclear reactor, surrounded by ammunition and highly flammable jet fuel, located right outside of our most populated city,” said Masahiko Goto, a local lawyer who has led protests against the ship.
Oh, good, some one whose existence and comments can be verified. How strange that he says nothing about 2/3rds of the reasons that the first paragraph mentions.
The Kitty Hawk was conventionally powered and the deployment of the George Washington has raised concerns among anti-nuclear groups…
The USS Kity Hawk was the last non-nuclear carrier in the US Navy. A such it wasvfueled by thousands of gallons of highly flammable fuel, complained about in the prior paragraph.
Such concerns were heightened when the U.S. Navy disclosed in early August that the USS Houston, a submarine, had leaked water containing radiation during several calls to Sasebo and Okinawa, in southern Japan, and Yokosuka between July 2006 and April 2008.
First, and this really cracks me up, do you know where it leaked? Into the tank designed to catch it in case there was a leak. Thats right. It leaked straight into the specially designated leak catcher.
What was leaked was the cooling water. This is not the water that the reactor super heats to flash into steam and turn the turbine. This is the water that flows around the condenser that turns the cool steam back into water to be superheated again. The water that leaked never even touched reactor components (1.)
So, how radioactive was this water after all? Well the leak doused a sailor, who then tested negative for any form of radioactive contamination whatsoever. Lab testing would prove the amount of radiation released was:
.000 000 5 curies. The same as a bag of lawn fertilizer. You are exposed to significantly more radiation a normal day in a brick house.
But my all time favorite in this is “leaked water containing radiation” Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot, over? “Leaked water containing radiation” Um, really? I didn’t know that electromagnetic energy could be stored in water. The kids on the short wagon of an Amish school have higher scientific literacy than the writers of MSNBC. There’s no such thing as radiation filled water. Thats sort of like saying a truck overturned carrying a load of sound, or, Uh oh! I dropped my sack of light. Grammatically fascinating yes, but physically impossible. What I think they meant but were too stupid to say was “water containing radioactive isotopes”. Ignorant, freaking cows.
Also, we are having a really hard time finding a house and have reduced time in which to do it. Bummer.
Jet lag is still getting the best of me. I couldn’t keep my eyes open much past 2000 local and passed out. At 0315 local, I couldn’t sleep anymore. It’s 2028 now your time. Apparently, 8:30 PM is a lousy time to talk to my friends on facebook, so I’ll just blog my dream.
Laura Gene smoothed her wavy blondish hair behind her ear. Her mother had always said “Girls don’t sweat, they glow.” but apparently her mother had never tried to unpack two tons of boxes alone. She was sweating a lot, soaking the small of her back, and stinking up her second favorite ratty old t-shirt. The real problem was her glasses. Sweating made here nose slick, and her silver rimmed glasses slid right of it, which in turn meant they had to be pushed back up, which in turn, caught the little wispy hairs by her ears, which in turned tickled her flushed face. As she swung a cardboard box down from the stack and carried into the kitchen for unpacking, she looked out the window into the back yard where her kids were playing. The angle was wrong for her to see, but her oldest son was clearly talking to an adult leaning on the fence.
“Eric, you know better than to talk to strangers,” she muttered under her breath as she hurried out the back door to see who it was, violently shaking the blinds on the window as she let it slam.
Laura Gene was conflicted. She was mad at Eric for talking to stranger instead of telling her someone was there, but glad that he was so confidently talking to this man. She was also pretty pissed at the stranger for walking up to her back fence and talking her son, but maybe he was neighbor it was OK for him to just walk up? Her shirt was still clinging to her back as walked down the overgrown path that connected the back door to the gate. She pulled is straight as she walked purposefully.
“Who’s your new friend, Eric?”
Eric paused his four year-old’s prattle, his eyebrows knit together. Obviously he had been so busy talking he hadn’t asked. The man, who had been leaning over the fence to listen, raised his head very slowly.
“Jacob,” he said quietly. “Eric, could you go play over there with your sisters so your mom and I can talk?”
Laura Gene felt the world was spinning around her. It was him. Where before he had worn his hair in thick locks, it was now shaved to the skin. His shoulders, once nineteen year old narrow were now twenty-five year broad, but it was undoubtedly him. His chocolate brown eyes, hidden behind thick glasses when she knew him, were now free to be seen clearly without a lens over them. His eyes carried a century of pain in his young face.
“LG, why didn’t you tell me I had a son?”
She looked him over. There was a thousand things she wanted to tell him, a thousand times she’d thought of him over the past four years. She’d heard he joined the Army, but somehow she’d forgotten what that meant. Forgotten his hair would be gone and that he’d be lean and tall like this. She’d heard he gotten married but she hadn’t expected the ring on his finger to hurt like this, like a knife in the guts.
“I’ll pay child support, with back pay. I just want to be part of his life,” he said, still looking at Eric.
Today, was my first full day in Germany. I woke before sun began to shine futilely on the fog. Drinking my morning coffee on the balcony, I watched the cars cut through the mist on the road in front of my suite. It was a bit chilly, low 40’s to me, around 5 to them. I went to various offices to receive and give out various bits of paper.
At the end of the day, I took a walk. Fine, black gravel paths weave in and out of the stands of trees and woods that spring up all over the base. The paved paths are hexagonal cobblestones instead of plain concrete. They curve and twist instead of going in straight lines, complimenting rather than dominating the landscape.
I stopped under a stand of trees where some birds were calling into the gathering night, listening to their music intertwined with the whisper of wind in the trees. Far away I could here the roar of a jet being getting a test run. Its a throaty, rich noise, full of power and the possibility of menace.
As I stood there, I experienced something I am not sure that I have ever felt about a place before. Instead of wanting to change this place, I’m just happy to be apart of it. I don’t want to be the boss here, I’m happy with here. I just want to be me. I just want to live.
Its an awesome feeling, in the old sense of the word, like standing at the base of a mountain, or the top of huge waterfall. I began to have this feeling when I stepped out of the plane. The Frankfurt Airport, was enormous, bustling, and silent. There was an “at-peaceness” that hung over the place like a cloud.
It’s my first day. Some of this will pass; I have a very mercurial personality, which is on the upswing right now, but first impressions are so important, and Germany has made an enormous first impression in me.
I wonder what I will learn here. What spiritual journey can I have here in the crisp air and beautiful land? What can this culture teach me about what it means to be a human, an American, and ultimately myself? What meaning and purpose can be purchase by a man without religion? And at what cost? How will my atheist world view and deist theology serve me in this new place?
I been excited for the future before and rarely excited for the present, but this something special and wonderful.
I want to blog tonight. I want to pour my heart into this keyboard and watch the black letters appear like magic runes onto the whiteness of the textbox.
I am leaving on a plane tomorrow. I will be leaving the phase of my life here in the Gulf Coast far behind. I should feel excited, I guess, but all I feel is enormous relief.
Normally when I leave some phase of life to start another, I feel some bittersweetness. Not here. The only reason I am not more happy is because my plane could still have a problem and have to come back.
When I settle in, when I am riding my bike through the hills of Germany, then I’ll relax.
So, tonight, for therapy, I write yet another blog about sex and fidelity.
I grew up in an ultra-conservative home, in an environment of paranoia, violence, and manipulation. I don’t know how these things came together to create the person they did, but somehow, in a blender of guns and Bibles, there developed in me this need, this need to be touched.
I don’t mean touched in the physical way though, though I include that. I mean touched in the way they say Mother Theresa touched people: her presence moved them. I need to be touched, and to be moved. I never had many male friends. I just didn’t want them, really. Females were so full of mystery and drama. I loved the drama and the histrionics because only when the person I cared about it was at the knife edge of sanity did I feel real. I always had my girls. Few actual girlfriends, mind you, I wasn’t capable of the sort of sustained attention and maturity that a real relationship required.
I’ve grow up now. I have a wife and a beautiful daughter. But when times are rough, when I feel stressed, I miss having my “drama girls”. I miss the way their weakness needed me. That’s always been with me as I’ve grown, so the burden is not so very great. Drama girl here is not an insult, by the way. I’m not talking about being totally psycho here, I’m talking about a person who lives there life like it was movie, with pining sighs dramatic falls onto couches.
But there is something else, two somethings really. One, I am not a Christian anymore, not for lack of study but from great study. I just can’t trust the fate of my life to an old book, albeit a fascinating and sometimes lovely one. That change modifies the very lens through which I view the world. Not believing in Christianity changes almost everything, but one of the hardest things to deal with is how it changes my view of my past.
The things I did and felt guilt for, the things I wanted and felt bad for wanting (but never got), and the things I did and was proud of, all look different now. A man is the sum of his memories. Changing the way one looks at his memories…well, that changes the whole man.
So, change number one: I no loner consider many of the ‘virtuous’ things I did nearly so good, just as I no longer consider some of the ‘evil’ things I did not do, nearly so evil.
Change number two: I understand that I am getting old. I am 27, quite young by any standard. I have the body of a man who hits the gym 3 times a week and gets a two 30 minute sessions of aerobics a day, because I do. I love my body. But when I look in the mirror, I see crow’s feet when I smile. There is no hair left on the crown of my head. I am, in short, getting old. That’s life. I should accept it, move on and enjoy whatever life I might have ahead of me.
It’s just… change one + change two, that’s what gets me. I’ve only ever had sex with two women. I’ve only kissed three. There is a certain kind of beauty that comes from youth. In 4 to 5 years, I won’t have it anymore. I won’t be a good looking guy any more, instead, I’ll become.. good-looking-for-a-dad. So too, my female peers will go from being “gorgeous” to being that “that-mom-who-always-brings-brownies, you know, the-sort-of-cute-one.” That youthful beauty fades.
There is some small, primitive, part of my brain that is panicking right about now.
Sleep with them! Seduce them by any means! Lie, cheat, write poetry, and/or sing! Do whatever you must, because the clock is ticking. This is your last chance to sleep with women under the age of 30. If you can’t get sex, then see them naked, if you see them in person, then get pictures, if you can’t do that, try phone sex, if you can’t get that, try cybersex, and if that doesn’t work you must have constant sexual banter! Go! Fly! Go now and never stop! You must outrun getting old!
And even farther back, waaaaay back, is that part I mentioned first, the part that wants to touched. Touch me! Love me! Please, for the love of God, just reach out to me a little bit.
It’s weird. The first part tells me to prey on my single friends, to do whatever I need to do to get those panties off! I was robbed, it says. I should have been fornicating like a wild monkey since I was in 8th grade, and I was robbed! The second part then says “Anything is OK, any line can be crossed, please, please, just love me.”
Between those two feelings, it’s really hard to see my female friends as friends and not like walking sex/affirmation dispensers. Mix in the fact that I do sincerely care about my friends and honestly do think they are beautiful and it gets really difficult to know what the heck is going on. Its like “Oh, look here is this person I love and think is beautiful. I want to tell them how beautiful they are. How much I enjoy talking to them. How I have always wanted to know them better than I do…” Now, none of that untrue, and it is exactly the sort of thing that good friends tell each other. But the motivation isn’t to be a good friend. The motivation is a desire to use them to me feel like: I could sleep with anyone I want to but choose not to. Rather than the truth: I can’t really bed anyone I want, and even if I chose to, I would get turned down sometimes, maybe (probably?) often.
Long story short: I’m going through a lot of stuff and I’m afraid of getting old. I want to sleep around to prove that I am young. I am way too big a wuss to go compete with real players and besides, I don’t want to ruin my marriage, so I prey on my female friends, by walking as close to the line as I can get away with. It makes me feel sexy and loved.
Um….I guess I should talk to a shrink or something. I will seriously.
And to my close female friends….um….keep being my friends, please. Just, you know, remember that I am pretty goofy right now. I am sorry. I don’t like being like this and its not permanent. Remember, I do really care about you all, its just sometimes I turn into a ass.
Egads, now it sounds like its OK that I do that, and of course, its not. Um….Ok. I officially don’t know what the hell is going on.