Every year after my birthday, I try to reassess my life. I write down this reassessment so I can read it. I’ve found my memory slants things in my favor and only by writing down my thoughts can I later be sure of exactly what I was thinking at the time. So this post is primarily for me, put out publicly for anyone who might be interested. In essence, I’m reintroducing myself to myself. If you want to get to know me again, this would be a good thing for you to read, if you don’t there won’t be much you haven’t heard already.
I spent most of my life with what you might call a divided self. To some people, I was a good and serious Christian, to others I was a very liberal Christian, to myself I could be either of those two, but there was also a private life hidden from both my serious Christian friends and my nominally Christian friends. There were two parts to this private life as well: there was young man that desired nothing but the satiation of the flesh, and finally caught in the tension of all of this and man who truly hated his very life, and struggled constantly to avoid physical self harm and deep feelings of worthlessness. I was deeply ashamed that I, a Christian felt that way and struggled as much to keep people from finding out how I felt like trash as I did to overcome those feelings.
It made for a complicated life. I thought my parents were the greatest parents on earth and I loved them. At the same time, sometimes I hated them so much it was purely my fear of the punishment of God for disobeying them that kept me at home much past my 16th birthday. If I was going to choose one word to describe my young adult and adult years it would “confused”. I was never sure who was the real me: the serious Christian, the liberal Christian, the sex freak, or person who was prevented from suicide purely because whenever he put a gun to his head he saw his family around his hospital bed as he was in a vegetative state, clucking their tongues and saying “Couldn’t even get that right, could you?”
I was always on the look out for someone who had the answer of how to live the Christian life. I wanted to truly be a Christian more than anything on earth. Adolescent angst turned into adult depression. Frequently, I would wake up before my alarm went off and stare at the ceiling trying to will myself into facing another day of failing to be the man I was supposed to be. Usually I could. Sometimes I could not, and it cost me more then one job.
This would lead me to join a radical Pentecostal group who claimed to have a corner on knowing God. Some would call the group cult-like, and perhaps it was but, in the end it was good for me. For the first time in my life I was honest with people about the feelings I had about myself and others. There was an enormous rush to being that intimate with people emotionally. The feeling, though sexless, is not entirely unlike the feeling of being courted. (I’ve talked to a few cult survivors who say this remains a feature of their live that they now miss.) When the novelty of those wonderful feeling wore off however, I was largely the same person. This became an increasing source of frustration. Further, the church talked a very radical, revolutionary game, but when I started to ask hard questions about when this so called revolution would start, I was ostracized.
A pivotal moment in all of this, was falling in love with my wife’s best friend. Of course, being 24 and her being 22, part of these love feelings including an intense and acute desire to make love to her. Which at first, made me hate myself more then I knew was possible. It would hardly seem that this could work for good? But it did. Through long conversations with my wife about my feelings, we came to the conclusion that it wasn’t feelings that were wrong but the actions you took with them. That being the case, I just ignored the sex drive and enjoyed loving someone. Always I had seen my desire for sex with a woman I was not married to as sick and twisted, and myself as perverse for having such feelings. Now, I accepted those feelings and enjoyed them but chose not to act on them. This was the beginning of a life of much less self hatred.
This new life of believing that I was worthy of love changed what I expected from a church. I now wanted to be treated as a peer. This didn’t sit well with the somewhat cult-like church we went to. The last straw was when I quit my job (to avoid temptation, long story) and no one would help us. Further, I was reading the Bible as a whole document looking for the whole story rather then reading individual passages to see what I could make it say. Our church wasn’t even close.
We had moved to the inner city to be closer to the people we were supposed to be saving. I sat on the stoop listening to the gun fire and the sirens. I realized that every stupid thing I had ever done was because I thought someone besides me would take care of me, yet here I was unemployed in the projects of Kansas City. I had a high enough ACT score to get into MIT and I was waiting tables and living three doors down from a crack house.
I decided I would start taking care of myself, and that such a thing would glorify God. I also still wanted to help people in the inner city, and it looked to me (after 2 years of hearing about transformation that I never saw) that hard working people getting money into the crappy schools would go a lot farther then prayer meetings.
I joined the Air Force (same pay as the other branches but least chance of getting shot and most time at home). I joined a very sincere Christian who had reached one simple conclusion: If one was going to consistent with ALL of scripture instead of just the parts they liked, then God was a radically different person then most people thought.
It’s unfortunate in many ways that I deconverted after joining, because I think a lot of people have the idea the military experience is what made me an atheist. Not at all. I joined, as I said, primarily to make enough money to make a difference. I came into the military a Christian. It was not the Air Force life that deconverted me but careful study of Scripture and the history of the early church.
That study lead me to believe that one of three things must be true (1.) There is no God. (2.) There is a God but he actively hides from those who seek him (3.) There is a God and I personally can see no evidence because he doesn’t want me to. In any of those three cases, this life on earth is the highpoint of my existence as I am either bound toward nothing or hell.
Logic says to believe the idea which requires the least invention to work. I could invent a God that cannot be found with the scientific method, or say there is no God. I chose no God. I prayed a final prayer, “Lord if you are real, I came to this conclusion with the brain you gave me and the best facts I could get. If you are real and I am wrong, then please keep my daughter and don’t hold my sin against her. I’m going to be true to myself and admit I don’t see you.”
After this, everything got better. (A subject I have blogged on extensively.) I didn’t ache inside because I wasn’t failing anymore. I stopped pretending I was a Christian, so now I had one kind of friends: the kind that liked me for me. Three months later, I woke up and was getting ready for work. I felt strange and it took me some reflection to realize why: I couldn’t remember the last time I woke up so depressed that I couldn’t go to work.
I didn’t immediately “come out” as an atheist. In my life I have been many things and what I am really excited about today is not something that will necessarily have great meaning to me in 6 months or a year or 5 years. I quietly worked out things. One of the things I really struggled with was the meaning of life in the absence of God. Christianity is a pre-packaged world view, the paradigm equivalent of a Lunchable. Atheism is merely a theology. Eventually, two things would move me. The first was existentialism. Sadly, since most existentialists are big philosophy geeks, existentialism has a huge image problem. Existentialism does not say that life is meaningless (that would be nihilism), on the contrary existentialism says life can have great purpose: the purpose you give to it.
This helped me understand some of the great confusions of my life. What meaning did my relationships have? The meaning I chose to give them. Guilt I had carried over an ex-fiance for years melted away. But what of the indifferent universe that I now believed I lived in? Well, when I spoke of this to the very wise Doctor Karen Stollznow, she said, Israel, rocks and trees may be indifferent, but we as humans are generally surrounded by human beings who are as authentic parts of this universe as the sun or the earth. Because people can make the choice to care, the universe is not indifferent.
During this period (around this time last year) I began to really hate my parents. I was profoundly bitter with Christianity and I blamed my parents for raising me in it. That was stupid. We’ve talked since and worked it out largely. Though not bitter, I remain slightly miffed at Christianity. I’m 29 years old and it has only been the last few years that I have had a normal sexual relationship. I’ve been in a sexual relationship since I was 22, however it wasn’t normal or healthy until fairly recently as atheism and existentialism helped me come to healthy view about myself. Sex is not very important to some people and incredibly important to others. I am the latter, and it irritates me that I spent the first 25 years of my life when unhealthy, ineffective thoughts and actions regarding sex because of Christianity.
A note here, when I say “Christianity” I am not referring to a code of ethics based on the Gospels, but the unique expression of American, politically conservative protestantism as I understood it. I have talked to many people since deconverting that managed to believe psychologically healthy things as well as Christianity. They managed to believe everything I do, yet do so with a paradoxical belief largely at odds with scripture. More power to them, I’m not mad at them anymore either. (For awhile I was jealous of their ability to keep all the pleasant trapping of Christianity without the madness, but I’ve come to accept that they can do it and I can’t)
This is largely the complete story of how I got to where I am. Next post I will tell you myself (and you all) where here is.
I’ve been meaning to write a blog about open marriage for a while. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to post it on this blog or an anonymous blog I maintain, and I decided I wanted to share this openly. (If you read both, please don’t reveal that here.) It’s a sensitive topic, and I’ve waited so long to write about it to make sure I said exactly what I wanted to say. I want to say why this topic matters to me, even though as anyone who knows me is aware, my wife and I are now, as we have been through out our marriage, sexually monogamous. We have every plan of being so for the rest of my military career (to do otherwise would be a violation of the military code of justice, Article 134).
To understand why open marriage matters me, you have to know a little bit about me. A man is the alloy of his past. I am not just an atheist. I am an atheist who used to be a Christian. It is doubtful to Christians, I’m sure, that a man who can look at a sunset and say honestly, he sees no fingerprint of the Almighty, once believed that in the same God they do, and did so with all his heart.
I was never good at it, but I sought Christ and to be his follower with all my heart. Despite my later de-conversion, I was as sincerely a Christian as I could be. God ways were at the core of everything I thought, and when what I wanted overpowered want I knew I should do I felt an agonizing guilt. Thus at the advanced age of 12 I decided I needed to start looking for a wife!
It was only logical. The Apostle Paul said in First Corinthians 7:9 it is better to marry then be consumed with desire for sex, and around puberty I was consumed. The fact I was 12, unemployed, and hadn’t even started (let alone finished) highschool wasn’t import. God said it was better to marry then to burn, so I needed to marry. This was especially important since I looked lustfully at women and masturbated. To obey God fully, I needed to poke my eyes out and cut my hands off. (Mathew 5:27-30). I felt terrible for so lacking in faith that I couldn’t make myself obey God with regards to mutilation. By seeking marriage, I was able to obey God, yet not hurt myself.
I thought I would never be able to wait till I got married. When as a young man, I was in my first serious relationship (that is to say one where the woman was in as big-a-hurry to get married as I was) I was able to refuse her. Later, when I would meet the woman I would later marry, I found a new dimension to desire that I hadn’t known before. We were both interested in the institution of marriage to get sex, so desire was obviously a component, but there was something else. There was this feeling that I was incomplete and I wouldn’t be complete until I was with her. You’d think that would have made us hop in the sack, but actually it made it easier to wait, because it was something special and we didn’t want to wreck it.
Like all good Christians, waited till we were married. It was (and is) groovy and I don’t regret it waiting for it. The thing is, both of us approaching marriage as God’s blessed vehicle for sex, we didn’t really get the intimacy aspect of it. We’d wanted sex so much, but we’d wanted it as novelty, the way person wants to drive car they’ve only read about. It took us years to understand the intimacy aspect, the way you could love someone so much that you needed to be part of them in the most intimate way possible. When I’d first met my wife, as a product of my Christian upbringing, I didn’t understand how you could feel love and lust for the same person at the same time. Eventually, I would understand the line between merely hungering for sexual release with someone I cared about and needing to drown in her soul.
What of open marriage? Well, my story begins, as I’m sure many men’s do, with my wife’s best friend. She wasn’t just that though. She was one of my best friends too. She was an aunt to our child. She called me brother and I called her sister. She was family, by choice and not by chance. She was part of our life, we all loved one another. I’d been terrified at first, when I realized I loved her, but how could I not? My wife loved her, she loved my wife, she loved my daughter, my daughter loved her. What was I so scared off? Scared of getting hurt? Of disappointing God or myself?
I turned to the Bible, seeking to understand God’s heart about love. What I found was that what made the church different was love. The Bible never says “don’t have close relationships with people of the opposite sex you aren’t married to” that’s a decision the church has made because often such relationships often end badly. Being who I am, that wasn’t enough for me. Morality means doing whats right, regardless of the personal cost. Doing whats right only when its costless is the morality of a sociopath. God commands us to love on another. So…I did.
It was beautiful. I hurt when she hurt. I was happy when she was happy. She was a little ray of sunshine in our lives. A source of continual surprise to me was that I had no desire to have sex with her. It turned out I could love a woman and not be consumed with a desire to screw her! I was ecstatic to learn that. It was wonderful to learn that I wasn’t as broken inside as I thought.
She was a very physical person. She hugged a lot, play fought a lot, flopped onto one of us on the couch a lot, and all the normal things that people who love each other do. It was all just good, clean love. When I finally realized I did want to sleep with her, it was such I totally different feeling then I had expected that I didn’t know when it had started.
I didn’t want to screw her. I didn’t want to ruin what we had or even just have a sexual release with her. I just wanted all of her. As a young man I wanted sex with a woman I loved as a guilt free upgrade from Rosie Palm. As a man who had been married for several years, I wanted sex with a woman I loved because of the incredible power that sex has to bond people who love each other together.
I knew such an act would be a sin, of course. Though the Bible does not forbid polygamy, the Bible does say you must follow the law of your land (Romans 13:1-4) excepting when it tells you to sin (Acts 5:29). Polygamy is illegal in the US, so it would be a sin to do it. What I also knew was the desiring her was not a sin. I didn’t want anything wrong. I wanted to be more deeply bonded to a woman I deeply loved. As I had felt that for my wife, I felt it for our friend. My wife and I talked about it, frequently. When guilt snuck up on me, she would remind me there is no such thing as a bad feeling. Feelings are good, it’s the actions we take that are good or bad.
Eventually, this feeling became so strong that I had to tell her about it, not because I expected her to be comfortable with it, but because there comes a point where if something is on your heart, you have to share it with the people you love. To do otherwise becomes a sort lie by lifestyle. Though I didn’t want tell her, I told her. Knowing it made her horribly uncomfortable which was fair and reasonable.
What wasn’t fair and reasonable we her insisting the desire was wrong. I didn’t mind being told “no” or “Ew gross”. I minded very much being told that I was somehow broken for wanting to be deeply connected to a woman I was in love with. We worked things out but, not perfectly. At some level, she thought I was a pervert for desiring her. When the person you love looks at your insides ands sees damage in the places that make you love them, well that hurts a lot. We drifted apart over the years and my atheism (when I de-converted) broke her heart and scared her. As an atheist, I wasn’t just a man who desired her, I was a man who desired her and no longer had the holy spirit to help control his lusts. Again we tried to keep going…but in the end it just hurt too much. We got sick of hurting each other, and parted ways (mutually and peacefully) each hopping the other person would change.
So, in the end, loving two woman (even though I was only sleeping with the one I married) didn’t work out. Nor do I think it works out for most people. Why, oh why, would want to talk about this? Because I loved. Most relationships don’t “work out”. Very few of the people we are friends with are going to be there forever. People move. People change. People grow. People live and people die. That’s life, and life is better when we love.
I feel for her because I let myself love her. There is an easy solution: I would have never wanted to make love to her if I hadn’t let myself love her first. I could have had safe, empty, riskless, shallow “friendship”. Instead I let myself love, and that love and my honesty about it ultimately cost me the friend. But I would have never had that friend in the first place if I had never loved. The three of us had a great three years together. I wouldn’t trade that for three years of nothing with no heartbreak at the end.
I loved courageously. It was beautiful. I won’t do it the same again, and I highly, highly doubt there will ever be another like her again. I will probably die having never made love to any woman but my wife, and I am totally OK with that. It’s just, I understand now how two people could love someone else so much, that they want that person to part of their marriage. It was so great, even in the little, chaste way we experienced it, I would love to meet a person like that, even as I am at peace with the fact the chance of it is nigh impossible.
First of all, the modern Church could not exist without the New Covenant as it is properly called). I am fascinated by the Bible as a human artifact. First off, the Bible is open source. Think about it. There was no top down command structure that caused the Bible to be developed on certain lines. The “design” was open source. All kinds of people wrote their stories, their advice, their point of view. The word Gospel means good news, but it doesn’t just mean that in the sense we mean it today. It was a common way for a traveler to begin a positive story. The Gospel according to Mark could be changed into the expression “The Big story, according to Joe”. Tons of people wrote original work, many more people copied the original work and made minor changes. A lot of the original work was not that great and many of the changes were pointless. The really good stuff was kept and the not so great stuff discarded. Eventually a certain writing style, presentation, and language developed. Sound familiar? was the original wiki! (You might consider the Koran the original Linux. The source document was written by one vision, but the most of the Koran is actually inspired commentary on the source. The inspired commentary was written by experts of the source document in collective, co-operative, and Darwinian manner.)(Or
Then there is the early Church. The church began with a handful of true believers, profoundly affected by what they had seen. Each formed his own following, a small group that respected and obeyed him. In modern middle eastern cell ideology this called the cell ring: the core cells in the center of the org chart that basically independent but lead with a connection to each other. The churches under them met in houses, this would be the secondary cells. Rituals began to develop that encouraged a sense of intimacy and family between people who had not previously been related. (The siblinghood of all man under God and through Christ encouraged this.) Then, increasing notoriety and public knowledge resulted in increasing religious cleansing. The movement went underground. The leaders began to die, and the split into two separate cultures depending on local tradition and local acceptance. One was leaderless resistance movement, where the cell don’t communicate much, but work independently towards the same basic goals. The other movement became more of a top down cell group structure of a Western rather then middle-eastern tradition. Sound familiar? It’s the same with every small group of political or philosophical resistance fighters world over. It is how terrorists organize their cells, how the special forces organize theirs, how the NVA fought in Vietnam, how the Communist fought in China, and so on. It is the premiere method of organization for asymmetrical warfare.
Then, when the church became accepted, the western style bureaucratic cell structure prevailed, gradually absorbing the leaderless cells, and setting up a chain of command. There was the individual, the decons, the elders, and a bishop. Due to the social welfare provided by the church, a geo-political government formed, with a chain of command and hierarchy. Everyone paid the church (tithes were not voluntary, making them de facto taxes), but not everyone one in leadership. The church was divided between clergy and laity. The low level clergy had some say in political issues, and were appointed from the top down. Because this was a source of wealth and power, becoming part of the clergy was the route to wealth and power. Sound familiar? It’s the communist party in Russia. Just as junior level party members had some power, and high level ones all the power. The discongruous enormous personal wealth, power, and luxury of senior level party officials was identical to that of senior level Church officials.
Then the Church grew into a machine that took and took. The message of all the world under one cross was taken to the farthest corners of the world, and the old states of the Roman empire became the Satellite states of the Church. The Church provided military aid and advice to accomplish it’s goals. Improper expressions of the Gospel (ie, ones that didn’t pay tithe to Rome or refused to serve the Church’s armies) were viciously eradicated. Sound familiar? Soviet history anyone?
During this time the Church maintained itself as the world’s first multinational brand, with immediately recognizable franchises in every city of any importance in Europe, and small branch centers is smaller towns and villages. (Read the history of McDonalds)
Then, the Reformation. The massive bureaucracy was unable to respond to the new paradigm of freer, more democratic leadership selling a religious experience for the individual rather than the city or village. (IBM vs, Cars vs. Trains, landlines vs. cell phones)
Everything you need to know about business, about management, about wealth, about power, about technology, about organization, about counter culture, about revolution, about change, is all there in the.
In my earlier post about rape I mentioned the Christian/Conservative/patriarchal party line as my starting point, my beliefs in high school. I explained why I felt this view was wrong, and I agreed more or less with the feminist party line. That post climbed up over 1000 words and I quit, saving the second half for another day. This is the half where I admit thought I agree with my own conclusion, I am concerned by the direction society has taken in response to the tension between these two view points.
For some reason, women trust me. They tell me things they would not tell other men in their life, and this contributes greatly to my disillusionment with Christianity. Being a fundamentalist home schooler, my high school was the kitchen table, and not a lot of sexual coming of age happened there. The place that “grew me up” was my job at East Iowa Bible Camp. A busy lifeguard, I sat stone still, watching my grossly over crowded pool carefully. There was room for two my stand, and to make sure I didn’t miss anyone, I didn’t talk. I just listened.
Girl after girl sat on my stand with me. Enjoying the comfortable silence for a time, and then beginning to talk. And they told of their rapes. I don’t remember the numbers anymore, just that it was more than half. These beautiful young women, with their shining eyes and easy smiles had been raped. So many of them had been raped. They were worship leaders, youth group assistants, nursery volunteers. They were young the face of Christianity, fresh scrubbed and facing the ‘morrow. It still disturbs the hell out me as I write it 12 years later.
I knew from TV shows I’d watched, the important thing to say, was that it wasn’t their fault, and while I said it to still their tears rolling down their faces so incongruently in the summer sunshine, sometimes I didn’t believe it. One friend told me she knew she was raped, but didn’t remember. Klara (not her real name) had been drunk, and she remembered doing a strip tease for the boys at the party. She woke up with her panties around her ankles, her crotch feeling raw and damp.
Another friend was four. Her mother left her with a good Christian neighbor everyday. The neighbor’s son was 10. He raped her. He raped her everyday until they moved to the mission field, eight years later, her a budding young woman, him finally legally an adult. We’ll call her Gina.
These two women never told each other their stories. Neither ever knew the other was victim, and I’d given my word I wouldn’t tell. Inside, I seethed. Both were raped, both had something horrible happen. Both were shattered inside. But one was actively trying seduce a stranger and had, with full knowledge of consequences, consumed a huge quantity of alcohol. The other was four years old. In general, I agree with feminism, I agree that rape is far to common, but I have always felt any definition of rape which puts these two acts on the same moral level is less than ideal.
I remember believing that raping a drunken promiscuously dressed woman should not be punishable to the same severity as raping an “innocent” women. This retrospect belief sickens me today. Feminism taught me that woman should be able to do and appear as she wishes and that only thing that makes for a rape is the addition of a rapist. I feel that is mostly true. I also feel saying Klara’s experience was as equally not her fault as Gina’s is an enormous slap in the face to Gina. I feel that saying the only contributing factor was the addition of rapists elevates a Klara as much as saying “She asked for it” rapes Gina anew.
My second confusion is about alcohol. A woman cannot give consent if she is drunk. Even if she says yes, her yes is meaningless, because she lacks the ability to consent, and cannot be held accountable for her action. Yet man, no matter how drunk, rapes if he does not hear and heed a “no”. This is a horrible double standard. In short a woman is not accountable for her sexual behavior when drunk, yet a man is. This is patronizing so called “positive discrimination”. It is clear sexual Uncle Tomism, that says that woman are weaker and less accountable and need more protection.
This issues are where I step away from the party line. I am not making statements of fact. I am stating my understanding of the facts. I could have them wrong, and I welcome correction. Please feel free to comment and set me straight, that’s why I wrote it. I would really like to hear something from some card carying feminists on these two issues. Thanks for reading, all.
The following is true, names and situations slightly modified.
It was noon. All the campers were back in their cabins for quiet time. It was about the only time of day that Annette was free to work on the accounts. She had applied to be the camp registrar, having no idea that she would be the camp mom. Every kid who got stung by a bee, or skinned their elbow, or (for the older kids) had their heart broken came to her window, sniffling pathetically and waiting for her to make it all better.
She sighed as she wondered about herself. She was 26. She’d finished her masters degree in child psych, and had a good job lined up with a private school. This was her last summer, ever. From this point forward summer would not be a break from studying, but a break from kids who should be studying. For some reason, it seemed like the perfect thing to do before she began her long delayed adulthood was pull one last year at Bible camp.
She had worked there 8 years before as a “kitchen helper”, serving institutional glop by the ice cream scoop. The first week was for families, next high schoolers, then eighth graders, and all the way down week by week to the a half week for the “Lil’ Cowpokes” which was the name for the third graders.
The same office she’d seen since she was a baby in her mother’s arms, only now she was on the opposite side of the window. Parents came to family camp, then their kids went to kid camp, and then some would apply and get jobs, some for a single season, some for summers on end. Her father had been friends with Jon, the camp director, since before she was born, and when Jon found out a 26 year old with a master’s degree wanted the job of registrar, she’d been a shoe in. Of course, at the time, she didn’t realize what the job meant. As if it weren’t bad enough that she had to mother 300 some campers, she also had to mother the whole eighteen to twenty something staff.
The nails of her fingers clicked furiously at ancient keyboard. Bible camp did not pay well because it did not earn well. Most of the expenses were supported by freewill donation. She was considering the difficulty of transferring all the files on the antique IBM to her Dell when she had the feeling of someone staring at her. She turned to the window.
“Hello, gorgeous!” said the lifeguard, a huge smile beaming out of a tanned brown face. His name was Abraham, and he didn’t smile often. In fact, for a eighteen year old, he was painfully serious, his brow in a constant furrow of concern with almost everything. A lot of the kids and even some of the other staff thought he was jerk because he took everything so seriously, but he never had anything but smiles for her. Before opening the pool for the kids every afternoon he would come and try to flirt with her for about 10 minutes.
It made her feel funny, not bad, but funny. His was a Bible camp family, she was 8 when he was 2 and she remembered him very clearly. He’d been a handful in nursery, where she was a helper. When she started high school and worked as an assistant in children’s chapel, he’d been a handful there too. He wasn’t a bad kid, but he had a way of looking through adults rather than at them that made them uncomfortable. Her last year of high school, when she’d worked in the kitchen all summer, he’d been twelve. He was goofy, goofy kid, but he’d had a huge crush on her.
Now he was eighteen. He wore small expensive glasses instead of large cheap ones. He was broad and brown and his hair was frosted blond from being in the sun all day. She didn’t normally flirt back. Normally there were people in the office, and it felt…untoward, as if she was flirting at a family reunion. But today, she’d told everyone to leave her alone so she could work on the accounts.
He was still grinning like an idiot. He was just so doggone happy when he talked to her, and that warm smile was infectious. He was 18, just barely, she shouldn’t encourage him, but he just had no shame when it came to flirting with her. He rarely called her Annette, it was always “gorgeous” or “beautiful” or “darling”. From anyone else it would be so sleazy, but from this kid it was just adorable, with total sincerity and not a hint of irony.
“You gonna come swim today?” he asked. He’d asked everyday.
She kept typing, but turned to him for moment, eyebrow raised
“Why do you want me to come swim so badly anyway?” she asked.
“Well, I like talking to you and because you make me look good! I like people seeing me talking to this hot older woman.” He teased her about being an “older” or “more experienced” woman all the time.
Annette turned away from the computer to stare at him, crossing her arms over her ample chest. He had just called her “hot”? As always, with that total sincerity! Was he flirting? Was he being funny? Did he really want to get with her? She felt much more flushed then she felt the complement of a boy just done with high school should have made her, and then she had a dawning realization about Abe.
“I think you just want to see me in a swimsuit.” She said coyly accusing. For Bible camp, this was a pretty racy conversation.
His smile winked out like a light, but his eyes went from looking at her to looking straight into her eyes.
“Well, to be honest, yes I do” he said softly.
Anette blushed deep red and tuned away, toward the window. “Abe! Why do you want to see me in a swimsuit?” The words were an accusation, but the tone begged for a compliment. Annette had butterflies in her stomach.
Abe struggled. He felt like he was terrible with social situations. He’d really enjoyed talking to Annette because he felt he could just be himself with her. Without seeing her face, he couldn’t even guess what the right thing to say was.
“Honestly?” he asked
“Honestly.” She said.
“I see every girl here dressed and in a swim suit. A woman’s suit fit’s like a second skin, so I know every curve of their bodies. Except you. I only ever see you dressed. Clothing hides a lot. I just want to know what you really look like, how you’re really shaped.”
“Why?” She said.
Abe sighed, still talking to the back of her head. “Because I wasn’t joking when I said that I wanted to be seen with you. You’re incredibly hot. I mean, I know your 26 and I’m 18 and there’s no way in hell I’d ever have a chance with you, but I can look, and I want to see every inch of you that I can because you’re beautiful.”
Annette swiveled her chair and got up for the door, she turned to the door.
“Abraham, come in for here for second.” Abe obeyed, terrified and desperately hopeful.
Anette slid him a chair. “Sit.” She commanded, and he did.
She sat back down in her office chair, and rolled it up to him, her face close to his. Her head was cocked to the side and one eyebrow was up.
“Abraham, do you like me?”
His brown eyes gazed deep into hers. “Yes.”
“Do you really think I’m beautiful?”
This one was bit harder to ask. “Do you really think I am hot? My body turns you on?”
He swallowed. “Yes.”
Satisfied he was telling her the truth, she scooted the chair away and turned three quarters to make it easier for him to see all of her. “Ok, last one, and you’d better be totally honest with me. You know I’m fat, right?”
Abraham’s eyes opened wide. He knew he shouldn’t, but he looked her over feet to head. He realized for the first time that other men would call her supple legs “fat”, her lovely hips “fat”, her round butt “fat”, her padded biceps “fat”, her full bosom “fat”. He blinked. Fat doesn’t just mean overweight to most people; it means ugly. He tried to make Annette ugly in his eyes. He’d had a crush on her since he was 8 years old. He tried to will her cute nose and smile dimples from cherubic to merely “fat”. But he couldn’t. She was beautiful to him, and had been since he was old enough to notice such things. She was funny, and smart and had huge tits. There was nothing to not like.
“Honestly, Annette, I just think you’re beautiful. I know your bigger than most girls, but it never crossed my mind that you were fat.”
Annette began to giggle.
“Abe, do you like Gina or Angie?”
Confusion. “Um, no, not especially.”
Annette considered one particularly popular cheerleader. “What about Mary?”
Abraham, scrunched his nose. “No, she’s totally fake.”
Her giggling turned to outright laughing.
“Do you like Beverley?”
“What about Laura?”
“And you think Jaycee is really hot, don’t you!’
Abe, ran his fingers through his hair. He was really confused now. “Yeah, I do. Why?”
Annette smiled warmly at him. “The girls you like? They’re all fat. The ones you think are vapid? They’re all skinny. Abe, honey, you like fat girls. With other guys I’ve known it’s creepy, I don’t think it is with you, you just like big girls.”
Abe though for a moment. He thought of ever girl he ever had a crush on. It was waking up after a long confusing dream, as angels sang out for just a moment in heavenly harmony “You like fat girls.” He felt like some small part of his future, his very life, had just come into focus. Then he realized he was still in the office with Annette.
“I guess I do! Does this mean you’re coming swimming today?”
“NO! You can ogle me some other day, I have work to do. Now, shoo.” Anette ran him out, still smiling. She would be smiling for a while, as would Abraham.
An atheist is person who does not find compelling reason to accept the God hypothesis. De-converts are special, I think, because most of us became atheists not because we disbelieved in God, but because we believed so much. One cannot be disappointed by a fictional character. The God hypothesis broke our hearts because we believed it, not because we doubted it. I searched out God. I looked for him desperately, searched the Scriptures, searched the great works of Christian literature, searched everything, everywhere for God. Because I believed God to be real, his enormous contradictions of character and schizophrenic mood swings terrified me. I began to increasingly doubt that God was real. There didn’t seem to be objective evidence for him. With all the blessings of God which relate to material things, (healing for instance) there should be objective measures of Christian health which would prove this blessing, and thus serve as objective proof of God. Yet there was none. If fact, the more I thought about it, the more Christians were just like everyone else, showing no blessing that made them special.
I decided that to heal my flagging faith I would read the Bible again, cover to cover. I wanted to do it in a short time, so that I could remember my thoughts from the beginning when I got to end. I read it in 3 months. But instead of healing my faith, it shredded it. When the Bible is read as a continuous narrative, not dissected bit by bit into numerous sermons, the full humanity and the total lack of the divine cries out in every page. The Bible, when read like a book, instead of read with the assumption that it is the book of God, it is indeed just another book. Desperate to believe in God, I decided that perhaps the Bible had been corrupted. I began to search out the history of the Bible itself. Again, nothing relating to the canonicity of the Bible gave me any compelling reason to believe in God. I told myself this was because of God’s deep seated love of freewill. He allowed errors in because he loved freewill so much he would let his perfect message get lost. I began to search out the history of the early church, hoping that maybe God had revealed himself to those people, given them something special, only the message had been twisted. Tragically, a search of the early Church did not yield the results I’d hopped.
Reading the Bible cover to cover had revealed gaps in doctrine I was unaware off. Studying the history of its translation revealed ghastly, purposeful mistranslations. Studying the canonicity had revealed a far deeper commitment to contemporary orthodoxy than to truth. So, for the first time, I no longer implicitly trusted Christian authors. They were, as Acts said, “men of like passions”, and had no more guarantee to be right than I. Everything I read about early church history, I source checked. I went through the bibliographies of the books, and read the oldest books that came up the most often. Or, I did as long as I could stand it. Church history, not properly sanitized to fit post Victorian Christian norms, was appalling.
Oh, I knew about the Crusades and the Inquisition. What shocked me was the total fluidity of doctrine. Church doctrine was not a solid thing, but a sickly, taffy like mass. The early Church was the measuring stick of Christianity, the Holy standard which all churches tried to adhere too, and their doctrine was not, by any normal sense of the word, Christian. I didn’t know this because I had never read Church history from any perspective other than supporting an argument for doing church a certain way. Pre-Constantine Christianity is a lot like pre-Ford automobile manufacture. Before the Model T, cars could have 3 wheels or 4, levers or steering wheels, engines could be anywhere. Ford created the standard, what we think of as “car”. Before Constantine, Christian doctrine could be whatever you wanted. The Gospel could be whatever good news you liked. You didn’t like a trinity? No problem. Open marriage? We’ve got that. Nudism? Go for it. Communism? Why not? Jesus was purely spirit? Got that too. Heresy did not exist. It was not until the Church had political power to harm heretics that suddenly it had the will. Heresy suddenly became very important, because it made it acceptable to kill people and take their stuff. The road to orthodoxy is apparently paved with tombstones.
I studied more, hoping desperately to find God. The church had lied. Over and over again. She had claimed things as truth which were wrong. Unbiblical organizations, unbiblical norms, based in unbiblical doctrine, based on imaginary standards of canon. I got mad at God. He didn’t seem to do anything about the atrocities committed in his name, and didn’t even seem to have much a hand in witting the Bible. God just didn’t seem to give a damn. I wanted to be wrong. I wanted to believe. I wanted every hurt I had ever been given in Christ’s name to have been a mistake. So I told my Christian friends what was going on in my heart. How hurt I’d been by God and by the Church for lying to me about him. It seemed as if I was an abused wife, finally finding the courage to talk with the police, expecting help, but horribly wrong. They would look sympathetically at each bruise and gently explain, as if to a child, that it really was my fault and didn’t I know, if I would just do what he told me, this wouldn’t happen anymore? It was terribly painful.
And then I got it. I didn’t matter what evidence I had. To Christians, the sickness of the things that surround God could never be God’s fault. Christianity was not at fault, I was. It was all my fault. God is not accountable to anyone, that’s Christian Doctrine 101. No evidence, no source, no study, nothing would change their minds because nothing bad is God’s fault. “Blameless” is not beautiful; “blameless” is as ugly as death. When I was a Pizza Hut shift manager, if a cashier’s drawer was off by a dollar, I was accountable. It was on my watch, I had the power to do something about it, I did nothing, and I was responsible. Yet, the immortal, all knowing, all powerful master of the universe was “the blameless one” who stood watching every atrocity, or worse, stood by wanting to stop it, but waiting for more prayer. That was Holiness and if I didn’t like, well I could just burn in Hell.
I used to tell the people I was evangelizing to, trying to convince them of the personal nature of a relationship with God, “There is no difference between a God who will not act and cannot act because he isn’t real.” I swallowed the bitterest pill of my own advice I had ever given: I reluctantly accepted the fact that I was an atheist. Surprisingly, the world did not end. I was pleasantly surprised to find I was still capable of basic acts of morality. I didn’t cheat on my wife. If fact, I loved her more. Without the pressure to be “Christ to the Church” to her, I enjoyed spending time with her more. Without wondering if I was enjoying sex from fleshly desire instead of Holy love, martial relations were delightful. Between wanting to spend more time talking to her and wanting to spend more time with her in bed, our relationship blossomed.
Not believing in Hell changed how I treat people. Never realizing I was afraid to truly love non-believers because it would hurt so much to know they were burning in hell, I’d never had a non-Christian friend in my adult life. Now, I had non-christian friends. Because I didn’t spend half an hour in prayer for them before they came over, I invited them over more often. Since I no longer looked in the mirror and saw a filthy disgusting sinner, I had a lot more confidence. I made new friends quicker. Because I didn’t think I had to “life style evangelize” them, I was free to be myself when they were around, something I had never felt with most Christians.
I no longer constantly questioned whether or not I was “pursing God’s will” in my education, which made me stress less about college, and in turn, get better grades. In fact, the lack of worrying about God’s will allowed me to effectively plan my life for the first time. I’d never been able to make long term plans out of the terror I would do so out of God’s will and derail my life. Believing that perhaps I didn’t know everything I needed to know about parenting from a few sentences in a very old book, I read books on parenting, and became a better father.
After my marriage and my daughter, atheism is the single greatest thing that has ever happened to me. I have done more to achieve my dreams and experienced more joy and peace in the year or so that I’ve been an atheist than the prior twenty-seven. I love more deeply. I make better decisions. I have better friends. My only regret is that I waited so long. I feel like a grown man who finally realizes that there is no Santa. I’m a little embarrassed that my disbelief in an imaginary character was this healing, because it only reveals how emotionally, morally, and intellectually bankrupt I was before, a fault I cannot place on Christianity, but rather my adherence to it.
So for English I had to write one of those “who I am and where I came from” papers. I talked about my childhood a bit. I’ve an odd relationship with my childhood: My parents were pretty different. They made an interesting home life for us and all of us kids grew up a little confused about our place in the world. Through it all, I think they meant well, though. Yes, they held some odd viewpoints and values, but I think that they did everything they did because they really loved us and wanted the best for us. I think that’s why we all turned out OK.
But as anyone reads this blog or knows me understands, when I was kid I thought I had all kinds of problems. As a young adult my biggest problem was all the problems I thought I had. (Which disguised the fact there were actually somethings I could work on, but I wouldn’t find that out for years.) But as a 14 year old I was a bundle of insecurities and self loathing.
So, when I was 14, I visited Emmaus Bible College where my sister was a freshman. I met a lot of people there, but most importantly for this story, I met Jason, Tyler, Sarah, and Paul. Jason is still one of my closest friends, a crazy home experimenter and hacker. Paul is also still one of my closest friends, my go-to-guy for anything I need career advice on. While I was finishing high, school Tyler and Sarah fell in love and got married.
My senior year of high school I was dating this girl from my hometown. One night I had a vision. I saw her getting pregnant and us buying a house behind the window factory, where I was would live for the rest of my life. That didn’t appeal to me. I had around $4000 I had saved up throughout my short life. I had been alternating between wanting to use that money to (1.) buy a used airplane and teaching myself to fly or (2.) going to Pittsburgh, legally changing my name, and inventing a new life for myself free of the constraints Christian living. Both had problems: if I bought the plane, I would not have enough money to leave home. I would have to stay with my parents “forever”. (Forever being more than 2-3 years to an 18 year old.) If I moved to Pittsburgh and started Me 2.0 I thought I would probably do such crazy sinful things that I would kill myself because of the guilt (or at least that was the plan. I was 18, don’t judge.) If I went to Pittsburgh, I was going launch into crazy orgies and stuff, if I stayed home I was going to start sleeping with my girlfriend. (My apologizes to the good people of Pittsburgh. I don’t know why as angry young man, I fixated on Pittsburgh and not New York and LA like everyone else who wants to leave a small town and go to the big city. I don’t know why I thought orgies would be particularly available in Pittsburgh either. ) Either way, I was getting laid and feeling icky.
But I had a third option. I could take my $4000 and pay for one semester of Bible college. It was the path of least moral failure. But I still didn’t feel really good about myself. We went around the auditorium and said why we had come there. Everyone said “To learn more about JESUS!” I knew for a fact at least one of the guys on my floor was there because his parents told him that if he went to a year of Bible college they would give him a Jeep Wrangler. So when it got to me I said “I’m just here to meet a nice Christian girl and marry her”. Now this wasn’t strictly true, I was there so a girl back home didn’t get pregnant, but I really didn’t mind the image I thought this gave me, and I was uncomfortable about lying about Jesus. Lying about God to impress your friends just seemed (and seems) like a really awful idea.
Well, it turned out, not surprisingly, the guy who went to Bible college so he wouldn’t join (or start) a sex cult in Pittsburgh was NOT really cut out for Bible college. I met a girl there who was much life myself (named Lydia): a basically kind person who life had beaned her with a series of complicated hard to deal with things. In that environment of judgment, conformism, and emotional and sexual desperation we found each other and leaned on each other to survive.
And the person who was a life line to us: Sarah, Tyler’s wife. Now, I’d known Sarah since I was 14. She’d come to Emmaus with her own story of what she wanted to run away from (something I would not find out until years later) and when she had met geeky, awkward, bespectacled me, I reminded her of her brother Paul. So she was really nice to me. She was always really happy to see me and listened to all my silly talk warmly. Gentle reader, do you remember when you were 14? How would you have felt if an attractive, street smart, 20 something women treated you kindly? If Sarah had told me to cut my right arm off and give it to her I would have.
Well, then I was 18. Sarah opened her home to Lydia and me. She trusted us, listened to us and gave us a home. That last bit is more important that you can imagine. Both Lydia and I had good reasons to never want to go back home. We both had loving parents who meant well but just didn’t get it, and “Christian” friends who characterized the Sanhedrin a lot more than the Son of God. (Her more so that I. Everyone has a different burden to carry, I’d be lying if I said hers wasn’t heavier.) Sarah’s house was warmth and honesty and openness. It was the place we could go and be our real selves instead of the Christian selves we had to be at Emmaus. Sarah was my hero.
When I broke up with Lydia I was so ashamed. I was ashamed of what I had done. I was ashamed of what I had not done. I was ashamed of breaking up with her in the first place. I was ashamed that I hadn’t done it sooner. And I didn’t want to go to Sarah and Tyler’s house anymore. They had seen me as my most honest self: a good man but not a Christian, desperately lonely, easily hurt, and high strung. Every time I saw them, it was like looking into a mirror of who I really was.
But not who I wanted to be. I wanted to be Amazing Christian! I wanted to love Jesus so much that I didn’t sin anymore. I wanted to be GOOD man. I wanted to be rich, or have the capacity to be so and not take it because I choose poverty out of love for Christ. I wanted to be the best Christian in the world. And every time I looked at Ty and Sarah, I saw the people who saw what I really was.
So, gradually, I stopped calling. Stopped dropping in. I moved. They moved. Time passes.
Now its 2008, nine years after I left Emmaus. I don’t want to be Amazing Christian anymore. More than not caring if I meet the churches ideal, I now consider meeting the churches ideal a moral failure in and of itself. I find that I really care about the people that loved me back then.
So I called Tyler and Sarah up. Sarah answered. We talked. She’s having some problems. She had rough life physically and emotionally when she was a kid, and those scars run deep. Sarah’s strong, she’s holding up. And Tyler is a good man, always was. He takes good care of her.
But they could have had one more friend helping shoulder the load. One more person to listen. One more person to cry with. And I pushed them away. On purpose, because horror of all horrors, they saw me for what I was instead of who I wanted to be.
So, to Sarah and Tyler, Anna and Joe, Ben and Heather, Scott, and anyone else who I have forgotten, or purposely not put on this list due to its public nature.
Thanks for trying, and I am sorry I pushed you all away.
This is not a flippant thing that I am about to do. I think a lot of people who care about me are really confused about what I believe, so I am going to give you all a view into a letter to God that I am sincerely writing as well as posting. If you, the blog readers, think you have an answer that can backed up, please feel free to answer any of the questions below in a comment.
I don’t get you. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten you. I know people say this is because you can’t be gotten, but I don’t buy that. Even if I never understood you, thats what friends do, they try to understand where each other are coming from. People tell me that you want to be my friend, and I guess I want to be yours. I say “I guess” because I am not really sure. I hear that you offer a love like no other, but you seem to charge a price like no other as well. The US Military (my employer) says I must offer my life for them. This I must do only once, and often as not, should the opportunity arise it will be to save my comrades. You demand not a single, ill-though, impassioned second to save those I love, but every second, of every moment, of everyday, for the rest of my life. My job demands my life but once. You demand it forever, in this existence and the next.
All that I know about you is contained in my heart, the words of those around me, the world around me, and the Bible. Though emotions give life color and verity, they make a poor compass. I will not trust my heart to know you, not if I believe what you say in the Bible. You say the heart is “deceitfully wicked”. I can’t trust what is deceitfully wicked to guide me. And the heart is capricious, loving someone one moment and hating them the next. Thats why a good man speaks from his mind not his heart, which you also say: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”
The words of those around me are sometimes beautiful and sometimes ugly, but regardless of specific instance, generally useless when its about the spirit. Truth is not true because of consensus, it either conforms to reality or it doesn’t. Besides if my heart is wicked why are other peoples’ hearts different? I cannot be alone in my sin: “For all have sinned…” When it comes to you, everyone has an agenda and I can’t trust anybody who claims your name to say to me only what benefits you and not what benefits the speaker.
The world around me is beautiful. I love the trees and ocean. I like to ride my bike in the roasting sun and have the wind blow the sand stinging against my legs. I see around me beauty and order. Because the world you have made is full of order I see man’s greatest dream over my head everyday. We always wanted to fly. With the physics you made as part of the universe you created and the minds you gave us we figured out how to make great tubes of aluminum fly through the air not as stupid bullets, but guided in flight by our hands, obeying our constant whim. Science, the systematic study of a rational universe, is the greatest tool we have ever found. Because with science, we can make an airplane fly, and our ancestors could not. Yet… you and science that describes your creation are not in agreement. You claim to have made the earth in 7 days, and the genealogies you provide in Scripture tell us that the earth is about 7000 years old. The science that gives us such a window into the depth and power of the Mind that designed all says that the earth is 4.5 billion years old.
I trust the descriptions of this rational universe we live in to be true everyday. Every day I use my front door because I trust that I still can’t walk through my wall. Every week I put gas in my car and expect to get around 30 mpg. This is because I trust that the description of the combustion of hydrocarbons with oxygen producing CO, CO2, water vapor, and l trace amounts of various things will function the way they always have since the 1600’s when we began to study such things. But the science that flawlessly describes the 60 cycle alternating current which is invisibly turning my monitor off and on with clock-like precision mysteriously fails totally to date the earth I live on.
Contained in my blood is DNA, which I have always believed that you were the author of. The ability to even visualize this DNA did not exist until 50 years ago, and I’ve thought us blessed that we could have this lens into how “fearfully and wonderfully made” that we are. My father, dying of a virus, may yet be saved by the executed knowledge of DNA to create a cure. The tens of of thousands of people cured by the recombinant DNA created were saved by man doing his best to manipulate the physics you created. Yet this knowledge points to evolution. The more we know about DNA the more man appears to be related to African Apes. False conclusions show themselves in false results, but recombinant DNA heals. How can it be so repeatably, veritably right in all regards but this one?
Finally, the Bible, my source of meaning and context since childhood. The Bible I have is a Protestant Bible. It does not contain the Apocrypha, because that is not part of the Protestant tradition. The Catholic Bible does contain it, because of the Council of Trent in the 1500’s, over a millennium after it was written, decided it too was canon. But it wasn’t written when it happened. Your word was written 50 to 100 years after the events it describes happens often by people who weren’t there. Why? Why would wait a century to write your inspired word? If the writers were writing your words, why was the canonicity of many unestablished till the 400’s? Then, a more then a millennium later at Trent, the Catholic Church had to take a stand. Luther’s sola scriptura meant for the first time the Catholics had decide what was scripture (since prior to this tradition and papal bulls were equal in authority to scripture).
God, this looks horribly like humans, not like you. Your omnipotence seems sorely lacking in all these proceedings, as clearly as it is lacking in the actions of those who claim to act in your name. Please answer these questions, they confuse me very much
The lost sheep
I had an incredibly lousy weekend. First, a moment of silence to remember “The Joy’s of Coffee”. Joy’s not only the greatest coffee shop on the Gulf Coast (which is sort of like being the smartest kid on the short bus) it was the greatest coffee shop of all time. Ever. I have drunk expensive coffee in San Fransisco, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, Monterey, and Minneapolis. Joy’s served a cup of Americano for which you would sell your mortal soul. My wife hates coffee. She doesn’t even like the limp wristed so-called coffee beverages that Starbucks sells for such unholy amounts of money. But Joy’s americano? She smelled it and said “That smells amazing.” She tasted it and said “I think I could learn to like coffee if it was always served like this.” But Joy’s is closed and some ignorant baboon bought it. The woman who bought it doesn’t know how to make americano. In fact, I really doubt she knows how to make anything but Foldgers instant crystals. In the world of real coffee, Foldgers instant crystals (FIC) occupies a position of legendary evil, not totally unlike the Antichrist in Christianity. To those who truly love coffee, FIC isn’t just whats wrong with coffee. Its whats wrong with the Establishment. Its whats wrong with this country. It is, in fact, tangible proof of evil. And this lady had Foldger’s Instant Crystals carved into her tiny, bourgeois skull with Dollar Store never-needs-sharpening steak knife.
Second, I got a nasty case of the intestinal flu. I don’t know if you have ever had the intestinal flu, it is to paraphrase Douglas Adams, rather unpleasantly like being drunk. Whats so bad about being drunk you ask? Ask a glass of water…
Third, since I had nothing else to do than lie on the floor near my toilet, I finished reading the Bible this weekend. This should have been a fairly spiritual experience but there is just something about spraying pure liquid poo while having horrible, horrible cramps that sort of robs it of the majesty. Reading the Bible cover to cover instead of building my faith largely demolished it. This is actually a good thing, its happened before, and every time I develop a much deeper understanding as part of the process, but it feels like getting hit with a train.
So, no more good coffee, intestines in revolt, Christianity on the skids. All in all, a really lousy weekend.
I make this clear sometimes in my blog. I don’t hate Christ, I just hate the multimedia politico-religious for profit enterprise that predominately Christianity. I am reading through the Bible right now, cover to cover and I have made it as far as the Gospel of John. Now no person who reads the Bible can logically argue that physics is something that really concerns God much. Consider…
God made light and darkness on the first day, but the sun and stars on the 4th, or that he made plants before he made the sun. How did the plants survive in absolute zero?
God makes the sun stand still for Joshua
I could go on, but I don’t really need too. Any believer will tell you one of the things that makes the miraculous just that, is that it doesn’t make sense, it defies what we know about physics. And since God is the author of physics its his to rewrite on the spot as he sees fit.
I’m not stating the above as any kind of “proof” against God, I’m just saying thats God doesn’t really care for physics and any attempt to explain God in a way that puts more “rationally” is going to rob truth from both God and physics, satisfying the intrinsic demands of neither.
The problem that I am running into in the New Testament is God not following his own moral code. Condsider:
Jesus says that anyone who calls another man “Fool” is in danger of hellfire. He then calls the Pharisees fools.
He says to love your enemy and promises eternal damnation for God’s enemies.
If John the Baptist saw the Spirit of God descend on Jesus like a dove and say “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased” why did he have to send disciples to ask if Jesus was the Christ?
A lot of the things that Jesus says are in direct contradiction with the Law of the Torah. In the Torah a woman was commanded to fight a rapist (or die, actually). In the New Testament Jesus says to “turn the other cheek”.
I’m really confused by all this, and I just keep finding more things that confuse me. I’m not going to stop reading, but I am getting more disappointed by the day.