Update: where I am

Prior to a post I made earlier today, it had been over two months since I had last posted, and prior to that it had been spotty. Part of the reason is that my previous frequent posting was quite therapeutic for me and helped me work out a lot of stuff I’d been pinging around in my head. Another significant factor is life — work, kids, etc., plus I’ve entered the phase of my life where I’m now completely conscious of my unbelief and I’m taking it all in — observing and trying to reflect on what it all means.

I’m gradually becoming more confident in my unbelief — I’ve told more and more friends and I’ve been going to mass less and less (I’m at about 50/50 on Sundays). My oldest son will be starting kindergarten at a (albeit very relaxed) Catholic school in the Fall, so I’m interested to see how that goes. Speaking of my son, he’s been asking a lot of questions about god and the universe, and it’s been interesting trying to answer them without throwing other (religious) family members under the bus.

Additionally, despite all of unbelief, I’ve been appreciating some (non-fundamentalist) spirituality and ways of appreciating Christian metaphors (see links below).

Some topics I’d like to post on in the relatively near future, assuming I have the time and energy:

  • Talking to my children about god and the universe when they get religious fervor from other family members
  • How Eastern Christianity played a role in my questioning of Christianity
  • Dealing with conservative Christian friends and family as the culture wars heat up
  • Expressing frustration with basic Christian concepts while not being fully “out” as a nonbeliever

Some links to interesting stuff I’ve discovered recently:

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Some thoughts on “The High Cost of Leaving Your Faith”

I came across a post on Patheos from Neil Carter titled, “The High Cost of Leaving Your Faith” that essentially discusses why the journey from faith is often long for those of us who lose belief. There are many similar themes to the ones I addressed in my previous post, “Leaving religion is harder than joining it.” I want to highlight a few parts that spoke to me:

If you read the brutally honest things I say you may find yourself asking “Why on earth did you cling to your faith so long after this?  How could you?  With no satisfying answers forthcoming?” The simple truth is that the cost of leaving my faith was too high for me to allow myself to go down that mental path. […]When your entire life is built around a religion, leaving it means leaving your life and starting over again from scratch.

I cannot overstate how powerful a deterrent this is to people who already have seen enough to know better than to remain in their faith.  They have enough information to critically analyze the beliefs they were taught, but they push the questions down, holding them under like trying to hold a beach ball under water.  It can take a lot out of you, but it must be done or else you could lose everything—your friends, your family, your job, your marriage, your kids…you name it.  There is no end to what people may take away from you to pressure you back into submission to their faith.  See, from their perspective, people’s eternal destinies are at stake here.  No punishment (excuse me, “discipline”) short of hellfire is too drastic to coerce you back into faith in (their) God.  It’s only because they love you that they will take everything from you in order to save your soul.  “Faithful are the wounds of a friend,” the Good Book says.

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Comedy and religion

One thing that has surprised me in my journey away from religion is how much of a role comedy played given how much I love well-reasoned arguments. I used to think of comedy as the opposite of that – hyperbolic and sarcastic to get a cheap laugh from the masses. I can now appreciate comedy, which comes in a number of forms, because it can use language to point out truths by evoking emotion. How comedy played a role in my loss of faith is this: it pointed out the absurdity of Christianity. I think a reason there are so few conservative and Christian comedians is because they buy into absurdity and are blind to it. That’s not to say that there isn’t absurdity outside of conservatism and Christianity, but in America that’s where the bulk of it lies. With comedy there is nothing that is off limits, and the limits placed by Christianity make it hard for the genius of comedy to be realized in that context.

Here are some routines that brilliantly point out the absurdity of Christianity as we know it(warning: adult language):
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Links: 12/3/2014

Crux: Don’t expect big Catholic changes on sex:

Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney, Australia, a member of the Dominican order and an influential Catholic expert in bioethics, has a clear message about those expectations.

It boils down to: Don’t hold your breath.

“The pope was absolutely clear from the start,” Fisher said. “The pastoral goal is to see how we’re going to help people who are hurting. In this way things will change, and hopefully we’ll find some ways to help them.”

“But in the end, we’re not going to say ‘No, God got it wrong’.”

Love, Joy, Feminism: “He’ll never by the cow when he can get the milk for free”:

But when you boil this down, the entire point of the idiom is that women should use sex to lure men into marriages they would not otherwise enter. But what woman in her right mind wants to be married to a guy who only married her to gain access to her sex? Because that’s what we’re talking about here! When people say that having sex with a man before marriage will mean he has no reason to marry you, what they are really saying is that men only marry to gain access to sex.

While I think every couple should make their own decision when it comes to sex, I actually think the “he’ll never buy the cow when he can get the milk for free” idiom is a very good argument for having sex before marriage. Despite what sex-obsessed fundamentalist and evangelical Christians may say, marriage is not fundamentally about sex. It is fundamentally about a partnership. When couples believe they have to wait for marriage for sex, they are at risk of their hormones driving them into marriage.

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