Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

The Church, Parenting, Teenagers, and Atheism.

Two big thoughts today.

Part I

My deconversion story: I’m beginning to understand my teenage years. (I’ve been reading parenting books, more on that in part two)  I sincerely wanted to be a Christian when I was a teen.  The thing is, I also sincerely wanted to be a fighter pilot, rock star, pornagraphic model, cult leader, cat burgler, mercenary, repo man, special forces troop, artist, automotive engineer, truck driver, therapist, hit man, mafia boss, and, of course, Jedi Knight.  The Teens are the time in our lives we try different identities and see what fits.  Many of these identities were mutually exclusive.  I could not be a Christian and porn star for instance.  Also, in the case of “rock star”, there was the question of would I be a Keith Richards sort of rock star (not compatible with following Jesus) or a Phil Keaggy sort of rock star, which is more Jesus friendly.   To consider some identities I had to consider the rejection of Christ, and the (perceived) ramifications that would bring.

I always considered myself a Christian, and yet had my private doubts about whether I was or not.  Sometimes, I loved to do things that fit well in the 90’s Christian teen persona.  I was a Youth Ministry Team member and worship leader, for instance (played guitar).  I really, sincerely liked doing that.   Other times, I loved to do things that did not fit well in the 90’s Christian teen persona, like hardcore bondage porn. I really enjoyed doing that too.  I was enormously concerned with which actions sprang from the authentic me. Which upon reflection, I think, is what all teens are doing: trying out different patterns and thoughts and seeing which one seems to be the authentic self.

It seemed, as I was writing the story, I couldn’t really say Christianity was that important to me as a teen.  If it had been, I would have confessed to someone that I was masturbating, looking at pornagraphy, hurting myself, and often suicidal.  Suicidal above all, is not an OK way for Christian to feel.  We even had a little talk about it in youth group.  (I think a kid at the local high school had killed himself.)  Iremember everyone going around the circle in small group saying “Oh, I can’t even contemplate what it would feel like to even want to contemplate suicide.” I never told anyone how much I wanted to kill myself because if they knew, they when I finally got up the nerve, they would stop me.

Those thoughts and actions are so out of tune with what is acceptable behavior for Christians, that I am tempted to say that I never took Christianity seriously.  And yet, I know I did.  I would often not take communion, because I took Paul’s warning that taking communion when one has unconfessed sin could result in God killing you.  I didn’t commit suicide primary because I wanted to have sex first.  Even if by some not understood way, I made it to heaven, there is no sex in heaven.  Heaven or Hell, no sex.  So I would just tell myself to endure another day because maybe tomorrow I would meet someone…

So, in one way it is true, I never took God seriously until after I broke up with my first girlfriend. It’s because  I never really gave up on all those other identities, heroes and geniuses, until after I had sex. Then I resigned myself to being what God wanted me to be, since I had made such a mess trying to be what I wanted to be.

Part II

All that just sort of reinforces my new level of chill with the church.   It’s OK.  The church didn’t hurt me.  I hurt me, and the for the last 3 years the church was easy to blame for that.  Now, over the last three years, my pain was constructive, it helped me discover a lot wrong with the Bible, and ultimately reject the church’s beliefs, but it’s important to accept that I am responsible for my life.

However, I have yet another beef with the Church.  I’m reading Raising a Daughter by Jeanne and Don Elium.  The church told us we were prepared to parent if we just trusted Jesus and the Bible.  Oh, there is so much  I didn’t understand about parenting and am only now just begining to learn.  I’m so glad I deconverted when my daughter was young, and I hadn’t really messed up yet.   This is just one book, one set of experts.  I’ve so much to study, so much peer review and sources to check.  Perhaps the most dangerous thing the church does is assume it knows anything about raising children.  *sigh*

December 3, 2008 Posted by | atheism, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mental leakage for Thursday

Tomorrow, I publish the massive blog I have been churning out on the Focus on the Family “A letter from 2012” nightmare scenario.  Today, I wanted to write a bit.  I thought I would write about some of the crazy thoughts that are rolling around in my head

(1.) I think that stupid conflict is caused by an inability of people to accept that life isn’t fair.  “Wah! Boo hoo!  No one likes my God or my country! I’m not getting what I deserve!”  Then someone comes along and says “You right, you, your God, and your homeland are all being slighted.  So, even though its normally wrong to kill people and steal crap, it’s OK for you because life handed you the short end.”  Insert suicide bomber.

(2.) My mom is more of a man than most of the people I work with.  Last night a work it got down to about 34 deg F.  A guy there drives a Mustang.  He starts carping. “Oh, it’s getting cold out, pretty soon it will be snowy and icy. Mustangs are fun but they are NOT the car you want in the winter. ‘Bout time to put it up for the winter, uh yup, yup yup.”

Please.  My drove a full-size two wheeldrive pickup every winter for years.  There’s some simple keys involved.   Drive slow, put season appropriate tires on it, and put weight in the back.  Or you can be like this guy, cower in fear of the primal storm god, and use it as an excuse to own 2 cars.  Wuss.

(3.) I don’t really get the whole anal sex thing.  Ok, now if anal sex was about having sex with the butt, I could see that.  Butts are big and round and bouncy.  Lot’s of fun, butts.  However, you are not having sex with the butt.  You having sex with the sigmoid colon/rectumThe colon.  Why is that supposed to be hot?  I’m sure there is a website specializing in critical organ sex now.

(4.)When I had a motorcycle people would say “Hey, nice bike.”  When I got a small car with an engine the size of a motorcycle’s people say “Is that safe?”  Well, it’s significantly safer than a motorcycle, doofus.  What is it with people dissing small cars?  It’s just a motorcycle with a side car.  But motorcycles are cool (ie, penile extensions) and small cars aren’t. 

(5.) Obscene comparatives used as superlatives. Example: hotter than fuck, colder than fuck, louder than fuck, etc.  What does that mean?  Wouldn’t “the hottest” be hotter than any statement that began “hotter than…”?  Further, this is an example of stupid cussing: using sulfurous language when other things would work better.

October 30, 2008 Posted by | Microcar, Self discovery, Slice of life, Small Car, Transportation, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tears for the unmorned

Deborah Jeane Palfrey was a somewhat mousy woman, with wispy brown hair a penchant for wearing red lipstick that wasn’t quite the right shade of red. She attended Rollins College in Orlando, where she got her bachelors degree in criminal justice. She attempted to go to law school at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, but left for reasons of her own. While working as a paralegal in San Diego she made extra money as a cocktail waitress. This work brought her in contact with a lot of escorts. She found the working conditions appalling, and decided to go into the business herself, running an escort service. Apparently, she had a hard time paying the bills this way, as she did get caught “hooking” herself and spent 18 months in prison.

After getting out she decided that if this was the way she was going to make a living she was going to do it right. She headed straight for the halls of power and privilege in this country, Washington D.C., and began an escort service called Pamela Martin & Associates. Her idea was to bring college educated and very attractive escorts to D.C. where they could entertain men who had access to the deepest pockets in the world: the tax revenue of the the 300 million richest people on earth. She chose brilliant women, among them Brandy Britton, a former sociology and anthropology professor at the University of Maryland.

It worked fantastically. From 1993 to October 2006 she made a good living of about $160,000 a year. The problem was her home. She had two houses, each worth about $450,000. The IRS suspected trouble. Unfortunately, for the IRS, or fortunately for Ms. Palfrey, there just wasn’t any real evidence. They couldn’t get a warrant. Well, no worries. The IRS doesn’t NEED warrants! Since Ms. Palfrey was selling her house federal investigators could just pretend to be a couple buying her home! Then she would let them in and they could just wander around and look at things all they wanted! It worked.

Then they had everything they needed to get a warrant. The IRS found $500,000 in various accounts. She was now accused of money laundering. In April, 2008 she was found guilty of money laundering. In the process, she outed Randall L. Tobias, US Deputy Secretary of State, Ambassador and Director for US Foreign Aid, and Senator David Vitter. (Both God fearing Republicans, by the way.) If you’ve a dark sense of humor, it might amuse you to know that Randall Tobias was responsible for the United States policy on treating AIDS abroad. While telling the poor of Africa the only way to avoid AIDS was abstinence he was screwing nice, clean, $300 an hour whores. Also, he left a $18.6 billion dollar drug company (and the 18th largest company on Earth) to take on the position of Deputy Secretary of State.

Well, poor Deborah was found guilty, but she refused to take it lying down, if you pardon the pun. She said, “I am sure as heck not going to be going to federal prison for one day, let alone, you know, four to eight years here, because I’m shy about bringing in the deputy secretary of whatever, not for a second. I’ll bring every last one of them in if necessary.” 1

She had 10 to 15 thousand names that she was going put out in the open. 2 If that sounds bluster, 5 lawyers contacted her immediately after she announced that, to keep the names of their clients secret. Whatever was on that list must have really bothered some people. Remember Brandy Britton? She was one of Deborah’s girls. She was called as a witness, but inconveniently, hung herself before she could testify.

Sadly, we will never know what Deborah’s plan was. She hung herself this morning, just like Brandy Britton. Which is odd because she said not long ago, “I guess I’m made of something that Brandy Britton wasn’t made of.” That makes two suicides, both in the exact same manner, on what could have been the case of the century. But the FBI is unconcerned. “… the FBI was notified about the death, “due to the ongoing cases we knew Ms. Palfrey had in the Washington area,” but they are not investigating. ” 1.

Well, I think we can all rest assured there is no foul play here. After all, it’s not like anyone important could possibly have been implicated by her list. Who could possibly gain from her death?

May 2, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Godless heathens sin less

This blows my mind.  Instead of blogging about it like I normally do, I just wanted to present the article in it’s entirety here.  So direct from the London times…

RELIGIOUS belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today.

According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.

The study counters the view of believers that religion is necessary to provide the moral and ethical foundations of a healthy society.

It compares the social peformance of relatively secular countries, such as Britain, with the US, where the majority believes in a creator rather than the theory of evolution. Many conservative evangelicals in the US consider Darwinism to be a social evil, believing that it inspires atheism and amorality.

Many liberal Christians and believers of other faiths hold that religious belief is socially beneficial, believing that it helps to lower rates of violent crime, murder, suicide, sexual promiscuity and abortion. The benefits of religious belief to a society have been described as its “spiritual capital”. But the study claims that the devotion of many in the US may actually contribute to its ills.

The paper, published in the Journal of Religion and Society, a US academic journal, reports: “Many Americans agree that their churchgoing nation is an exceptional, God-blessed, shining city on the hill that stands as an impressive example for an increasingly sceptical world.

“In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.

“The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so.”

Gregory Paul, the author of the study and a social scientist, used data from the International Social Survey Programme, Gallup and other research bodies to reach his conclusions.

He compared social indicators such as murder rates, abortion, suicide and teenage pregnancy.

The study concluded that the US was the world’s only prosperous democracy where murder rates were still high, and that the least devout nations were the least dysfunctional. Mr Paul said that rates of gonorrhoea in adolescents in the US were up to 300 times higher than in less devout democratic countries. The US also suffered from “ uniquely high” adolescent and adult syphilis infection rates, and adolescent abortion rates, the study suggested.

Mr Paul said: “The study shows that England, despite the social ills it has, is actually performing a good deal better than the USA in most indicators, even though it is now a much less religious nation than America.”

He said that the disparity was even greater when the US was compared with other countries, including France, Japan and the Scandinavian countries. These nations had been the most successful in reducing murder rates, early mortality, sexually transmitted diseases and abortion, he added.

Mr Paul delayed releasing the study until now because of Hurricane Katrina. He said that the evidence accumulated by a number of different studies suggested that religion might actually contribute to social ills. “I suspect that Europeans are increasingly repelled by the poor societal performance of the Christian states,” he added.

He said that most Western nations would become more religious only if the theory of evolution could be overturned and the existence of God scientifically proven. Likewise, the theory of evolution would not enjoy majority support in the US unless there was a marked decline in religious belief, Mr Paul said.

“The non-religious, proevolution democracies contradict the dictum that a society cannot enjoy good conditions unless most citizens ardently believe in a moral creator.

“The widely held fear that a Godless citizenry must experience societal disaster is therefore refuted.”

April 29, 2008 Posted by | Government, Politics, Religion, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Depression sucks almost as much as anti-depressants

prozac.jpgDepression sucks. I’ve struggled with it my whole life. I hate saying I was suicidal, though I was. I hate saying it not because it is embarrassing to admit (It doesn’t embarrass me at all. I think a lot more people should be suicidal, actually. Their lives are totally pointless, but they are so busy staying entertained that they don’t know it. At least a suicidal person has some idea of who and what they are…)

It embarrasses me because Becky and I were sort of the mom & dad for bunch of 19 year olds. So many of them were “suicidal”. It always frustrated me, because they would tell me how suicidal they were. I’d ask what their plan was, and they’d say they didn’t really have one. Over and over again I would say something to the effect of,”Suicide is not a lifestyle, its an event. If you’ve been suicidal for 10 years and never had a plan, I think there is something else going on here. Lets talk about what that something else might be.” But privately, I was much more judgmental. I’d think “where’s the scars up and down your arm? Where’s the gun loaded with just one bullet? Where’s your special kit that you have for mutilating yourself?” Because those things mark someone who takes ending their life, or at least hurting themselves, a little more seriously than just mentioning in casual conversation, “Oh, me, sure I’ve been suicidal for years now!”

But anti-depressants always scared me more than death. I always felt like I hated my life because of legitimate complaints, not because I just had biochemical screw loose that made me hate my wonderful life. Seriously, it wasn’t a wonderful life. It was bitter and sad and desperate and lonely. I didn’t want to feel better about my shitty life. I wanted to have great life, not be stoned into believing that my shitty life was great. I’m sure someone who reads this will have had their life saved by anti-depressants. Great. I am very happy for you! I believe that there are biochemical imbalances that cause depression and that anti-depressants are healthy and positive way to deal with said chemical imbalances. But that’s not what my problem was. I am very analytical. I self assess my life constantly. When I was really depressed it was because I dispassionately analyzed my life and concluded as any sane person would that the life I had really sucked. When I was suicidal it was because I had a an experience when lead me to (very reasonably, I might add) to think that if I kept on doing what I was doing I would keep on getting what I was getting. That’s not the thoughts of an insane person. In fact, quite the opposite, since the definition of mental illness is doing the same-thing over and over and expecting a different result. On the occasions that cut myself it was because I hurt so much inside that I want hurt outside too. Is cutting yourself an acceptable way to deal with pain? No. Does the fact that I dealt with my pain badly mean that the pain should not have been felt in the first place? Absolutely not! Pain is supposed to hurt. I did not want then, nor do I want now, any chemical that makes my emotional pain less. Analogy: I don’t want it to not hurt when you hit me with a hammer, I want you stop hitting me with a hammer.

Anyway, I decided the only way to change my life was to sit down and change it. I told my church to screw it, told God to screw it, dropped out of all my closest friends lives, and joined the Air Force without telling anyone but my wife, and some close family. We just sort of disappeared. I don’t regret it. About 6 months ago we patched things up with people, became friends again, and apologized where apology was due. I don’t think that I “dropped out” right. There were probably a hundred different ways I hurt people and didn’t actually NEED to. But the spirit of me leaving: God, my friends, my family, my church, and my town, was dead on.

I did it because I refused to live a life in fear anymore. Not of God, not of approval. Not anything. Since then, the times when I want to kill myself have been few and far between, I haven’t struggled with wanting to hurt myself almost at all (which is a big deal for me). Oddly, I think the whole thing has a lot to do with God, even thought I turned my back on Him. (Losing my faith did more to cure my depression than anything else I’ve done!)

I turned my back on God because I had a faith that was unexamined, and an unexamined faith isn’t worth having. In the Bible there’s these people called martyrs. They were given a choice of saying that Jesus was BS or dying. And they chose to die. I never understood why. Why not just say “Jesus is a phony” and then live to tell others about how great he is. But they died. And the Bible says this pleased God. Well that pissed me off. Why would God be happy when people died because they wouldn’t say he was fake? Saying and believing aren’t the same thing, so who cares if they say “God’s not real” and then go on to a life full of miracles and helping people. But God does.

I decided that I wouldn’t call myself a Christian unless I am sure that if someone put a gun to my head, and said “Renounce Christ or die” I’d chose death. That sounds hardcore, but its not. Not really. I’d die to protect my daughter’s life, or at least if I don’t, then I’m not much of dad. Heck, female dogs will die to protect their puppies, I’d better have at least as much morality as flea-bitten mongrel bitch. So I still don’t call myself a Christian (not yet).

But I’m working on it. The simplest thing I’ve ever found is this: If God’s real treat Him like it. They say he wrote the Bible. They say he wrote the Koran. The Bible says there are no other books of God. The Koran says that followers of the Bible have no place in Heaven. So ask God to help you find him in the books people say he wrote. Then read ’em. If He is who he seems to be, it seems the Almighty Master of the universe could show you which biography is the most accurate.

He shows me stuff. (I thought the Koran sucked, btw) I read the Bible and I see stuff about this guy named God and what He thinks. Gradually, I begin to understand that the reason the faith I used to have made me want to cut myself to let all the pain out was because my faith wasn’t in God at all. My faith was in this made up God that the Church sells people because the Church wants to keep its stranglehold of power. The real God that I find in the Bible doesn’t bother me half as much as the one that people twist the Bible to invent. I still don’t love him, which the Bible commands me to do, but I don’t hate him anymore, and that’s progress.

January 3, 2008 Posted by | Pharmacology, Religion | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment