Tag Archives: Religion

The Wankery Of Guaranteed Divine Protection

It’s quite funny when one mostly has atheist or agnostic pages in their FB news feed, yet somehow gets Christian propaganda every few days. Some groups actually target non-believers.

One recent example was an inspirational tale of how a young woman was nearly mugged on a back alley one night, the only thing keeping her safe being the two angels walking beside her.

It goes like this: when walking home on a dark street to take a shortcut, a young Christian woman saw a man in a doorway and immediately prayed for safety. He left her alone, but went on to mug someone else passing by, whose guardian angels must’ve been sleeping on the job. Oddly enough, the lucky girl heard about it the next day and went to the police to see if she could help identify the thug. As soon as she pointed him out, the thug confessed and told the story of her having had “two tall men by her side”.

Of course no location or names were present in the story; that might lead a person or two to try to verify it. Though such an outlandish story would need chances of verification in order to not be dismissed straight away.Apparently, the mugger was able to see angels (an extraordinary ability not many hardcore Christians have).

And of course it’s rather odd that being pointed out by the one he’d actually mugged was not enough for him to confess. She was the first to go to the police and give details, accurately enough for him to be found and taken into custody. But the climax (his confession) only occurred when the second one turned up. Not to mention the second one (angel girl) had no proof this had been the same person who had mugged the actual victim.

So basically, a guy who mugs women and doesn’t give a shit about the victim identifying him suddenly confesses when recognised by someone who has no proof of any wrongdoing on his part (who just passed him by in the street the same night). Makes sense, right?

But let’s indulge the story for a second. Even so, it would be no proof of the mugger actually seeing a couple of angels. Perhaps he was stealing to feed his drug habit; who knows what he was on and what else he might’ve seen besides the “two tall men” who weren’t actually there.

As a disclaimer, I’m not saying I don’t believe in apparitions; they are common throughout the world, yet equally enigmatic. I don’t, however, believe spirits can be brought into manifestation at the drop of a hat, by simply wishing for it. And I don’t believe in guardian angels who presumably allow all kinds of atrocities against innocent people daily, yet are credited for intervening sometimes.

The moral of the story might be either one of these:

  • Putting oneself in risky situations is fine provided you ask for protection from your guardian angels;
  • The victim of the mugging didn’t have God on her side;
  • We should thank God when others are harmed instead of us;
  • God loves people so much he lets anything happen to those who aren’t smart enough to pray to him in real time;
  • Angels are protection mechanisms needing activation (unless you ask them for help in real time they remain dormant or stand by and watch).

I wonder then why people are turned into martyrs for Jesus across the planet. Presumably they pray for safety as well, but the “two tall men” never show up.

Things The Religious Should Never Say To A Non-believer Reloaded

Since the last post on the subject is comprehensive but by no means complete, here is another list of common retorts which, if you’re lucky, will not cause a brain aneurysm.

  1. It doesn’t matter if the claims of my religion are historically accurate.

You cannot expect anyone to respect the so-called validity of your claims given that you yourself don’t even care if they are true. How’s that for arrogance?

Your presumably 100% correct values come from the same sources as those tales you don’t care to verify. And yet you want them to remain unchallenged, as if you could somehow arbitrarily separate what matters and what doesn’t in your dogma.

Your religion is based on characters which either exist or don’t and events which either happened or didn’t. You can’t subtract part of the story and still hold on to the claim of absolute truth.

You can’t claim to know the nature of the seen and unseen world, the afterlife and the future based on a book which, well, just might’ve got part of the past wrong.

2. It’s actually just a metaphor.

If some absurd-sounding stories are simply metaphors, what should we make of the rest? Who decides what’s a metaphor in there and what isn’t? Maybe the bearded man in the sky, presumably possessing hands, is just one big metaphor as well. Face it – you have no certainty regarding any aspect of it, and yet you promote it all as truth.

3. Only idiots would try to verify the Bible by taking it literally. It was written for enlightened minds which can actually decipher it.

How about you keep it for yourselves then (oh enlightened ones) and stop trying to convert the world. Face it, that makes no sense, for a god trying to reveal himself to the masses to pass down such cryptic information that only a few, with great mental strife, can make sense of it. It is either simple enough to be passed around in mass conversions, to be understood by anyone, or reserved for a fortunate few. You can’t have it both ways

4. All religions actually worship the same god under different names.

How is it then that the god of some commands them to kill those worshiping a different god then? And that the so-called sacred principles between religions are so at odds with each other they have caused wars? If everyone is inspired by the same deity, how come dogmatic differences constitute the sole reason for clashes between confessions and sects, let alone different religions?

5.You should shut up and respect the majority opinion. The majority is always right.

I bet you wouldn’t claim that if the majority opposed your views; I bet the persecuted minority status would suit you quite well then. The majority was not right when engaging in lynchings, witch burning or, should your claims have any validity, crucifying Jesus.

6. Pascal’s wager is valid.

In other words, if you believe in God to play it safe, just in case there is a judgement in the afterlife, you can’t lose.

I mean, it’s not like in the event of it all being false, you would lose anything by organising your entire life (presumably, the only life you have) around a lie and letting it dictate your smallest choices. It’s not like that would limit you needlessly and ruin your chances of truly understanding the meaning of life, right?

The cognitive dissonance is just so blatant; their ideas are so contradictory they cannot maintain a coherent thought pattern in a single conversation.

 

Of Norman Bates And Christian Apologetics

As a non-believer, with no recourse for returning to faith ever again, there is still value in watching debates over the claims of Christianity, if for no other reason than having all I’d taken for granted debunked bit by bit, showing the susceptibility of the human mind to absorb lies, if they are inculcated early enough in life.

I realise why the issue of blind faith is so important in Abrahamic religions – as religious institutions are aware that merely accepting doubt is a guaranteed path to non-theism. If you tear down one brick, admitting that at least one claim of said religion is absurd, the rest will soon crumble, like a house of cards.

It is enough to realise Noah never filled his ark with elephants, penguins, kangaroos and tarantulas, which somehow would’ve made their way from all corners of the Earth and all terrestrial ecosystems to one boat in the Middle East, to understand that some things in the Bible are undoubtedly fictional. And from there, this shadow of doubt is cast upon each claim it makes. Which is why apologists do their best to uphold even such laughable absurdities as Noah’s ark.

Those who still ardently believe do so because that is their core intention and no logical argument seems to be able to shake it. Nonetheless, there are many who took the path of intense Bible study and came out of it as atheists.

Watching Christians debate reminds me of a futile, sweat-inducing strife, the inability to let go of a long disproved concept, hanging on to it by any putrid, disheveling thread. In this strife, so-called holy texts are taken apart letter by letter, in the frantic search for historical facts, logic or meaning. And although the results are always flimsy, there is always some detail to imbue with sheer emotion, to be presented as a wonderful discovery.

It reminds me in a way of the inability to let go of a dead person, taking it to a pathological level.

You can embalm a cadaver, sit in on a chair, groom it, speak to it and even mimic the voice of the dead person to speak in his or her name. You can look for signs of communication, interpreting every trifle with great enthusiasm. You can deprive yourself of sleep to induce a trance and hallucinate, thinking you’ve had a real conversation.Yet undoubtedly, this is the product of your own mind, and you will never achieve this real time communication, as much as you may stage or mimic it.

If this person’s energy or soul exists out there, in a different layer of reality, it’s impossible for you to know with certainty. And whilst this is subject to imagination and speculation, one thing is clear: what you have in front of you and speak to is a cadaver which cannot hear you or answer back. That direct communication is over; it only carries on in your head.

It’s the same with this relationship with an absent, silent God you have no proof of (as by default you cannot have any). You can interpret coincidences as signs; you can thank him for helping you find your keys as someone, the same instant, needlessly dies of cancer across the road from you, but you imagine God is there for your every need, however small. You can engage in role play by praying and pretending to know what God’s message is, when observing what happens next, interpreted as concrete results or lack thereof – either way, “God’s will”.

Needless to say, this is a terrible waste of time and energy.

And century after century, it carries on – the attempt to put flesh on the imaginary bones of an imaginary God; to manifest him somehow.

Many former believers admit to having difficulty letting go of the imaginary friend called Jesus (not very strangely, no one seems to be missing Jehovah that much, when starting to lose their faith). Jesus embodies their hope, their love and feeling of purification through self-sacrifice; their resilience. These are all beautiful concepts and it is heinous of religion to get people to place them outside of themselves, to make them feel that when they let go of this Jesus character they also lose what made life worth living for them.

Ample documentation exists to prove Christianity is yet another man-made system of beliefs, achieved by borrowing elements of older religions. But even in the face of that, Christians refuse to let go of the delusion – because they feel they’d be losing a part of themselves.

That is the surreptitious, perverse nature of it all, which keeps this machine going.

Refusing Doubt – The Mental Barricade Of Religion

Having had many conversations with religious people over the last few weeks, Christians to be precise, I have come to some conclusions regarding their attitude towards the idea of an equal society, where all beliefs or lack thereof are respected in the same manner.

Religions based on proselytism seek the political domination of the area they exist in.

When living in the midst of a religious majority, in countries where laws are generally inspired by secular principles , non-believers are tolerated as long as they are not too vocal or, Heaven forbid, they try to influence or change the status quo by eliminating dogma from laws or politics, seeking to ensure religion is not imposed in any neutral environment, shared by all.

If and when non-believers raise concerns in that sense and try to diminish the imagined superiority of said majority to dictate how things are run (as it happens in the case of LGBT rights or contesting the role of religion in education), the backlash is immediate and comes with a seasoning of moral outrage.

They have no doubt regarding their right to impose their dogma on others. They refer to tradition, as if it were unheard of for traditions to change. And suddenly, they refer to themselves as a monolith, throughout history, although nothing could be farther from the truth.

Respecting others’ beliefs is a false claim, when what they really seek is to “save your soul”.

Intricate mental gymnastics are employed when trying to justify to themselves that agnostics or atheists, when formerly religious at least, are automatically wrong to have abandoned their beliefs. I will paraphrase some of the replies given to me:

Your soul is, really, crying out for God, otherwise you wouldn’t have this preoccupation of sharing your opinion on this subject. Those who contest God the most are those who need him the most.

You must’ve had some emotional problems, of feeling unloved, so you turned against God and all you claim as evidence is just confirmation bias for your decision.

It’s all about your ego, as if you had a brand new toy you want to show off.

All this, as if searching for truth were not a purpose in and of itself, as well as the refusal to believe in a lie (or a potential lie, when at the doubting stage).

This brotherly love, in this particular context, turns queasy, since one realises they are sometimes treated with kindness in the communal hope that they might one day be brought back to Jesus.

Respect for a person’s mental faculties does not enter this context, let alone and admission of the possibility that the person might be correct, at least partially. This so-called goodness is a masturbatory exercise, anticipating to be proven right in the near or far future.

Which makes sense, really; you don’t apply a modicum of consideration to someone else’s processes when you are convinced your point of view will be vindicated sometime by an all-knowing, all-powerful God. Which is why religion is so toxic when it comes to human interaction.

They accuse others of Neo-Marxism while arguing for the propagation of potential falsehoods “for the good of the collective”.

The world would crumble without religion. We would revert to a beastly nature and society would dissolve. Everyone arguing against the respect for dogmas is playing a part in a Neo-Marxist conspiracy to deprive mankind of its divine connection.

It appears as though this modern red scare, becoming clearer by the day, could not have succeeded in adding to the ideological tension, internationally, without the aid of religion. Whereas the left does exaggerate (and it often does), a new type of hysteria has arisen over the last few years, proved to be partially pushed by online Russian propaganda. Namely the right and far-right’s conviction that there is an international conspiracy, rooted in atheism or satanism or both, to eradicate the “true religion”, namely Christianity, through reforms demanded by the left.

Whilst more eccentric theories such as the belief in reptilians or a flat Earth are not so widespread, for obvious reasons, the theory of a sustained persecution of Christians in secular countries is something in the vein of Ebola. It stretches from lamenting the so-called war on Christmas (which they still see as genuinely connected to Jesus, despite undeniable evidence to the contrary), to congregations warned of the dangers of vaccines, seen as a tool of depopulating the planet (again, in spite of all evidence of the diseases now eradicated through vaccination).

There is no end in sight to this. Just as the radical left is driven by a false sense of knowing it all and having absolute moral superiority, the religious right is driven by the presumed need to defend the status quo “in the name of God”.

There is a truck-load of cognitive dissonance regarding what is known and unknown about God.

On the one hand, when discussing this world’s atrocities and the apparent divine uninvolvement in them, Christians for instance claim God’s reasons are unknown, and therefore cannot be judged by us mortal, limited humans. That is the basic response to every question involving why does God allow so and so to happen.

On the other hand, and sometimes in the very next breath, a Christian will claim to speak for God, by claiming this is what God wants or does not want, this is what God feels and this is what God will do.

No comment needed here.

The unwillingness to doubt implies a lack of basic intellectual honesty in debating non-theists.

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of religion is its power to provide unwavering convictions to its propagators, to the point of rendering them unwilling, and through that temporarily incapable of opening themselves up for an honest debate.

Since their stance is combative from the very beginning, coming from a point of presumed moral superiority, there is no getting through to them with hardcore data or logical arguments. These just do not penetrate that shield of apriori “nothing you say will ever make me doubt”.

Which renders the whole conversation rather pointless.

Confessions Of A Former Homophobe

Religious tolerance is on everyone’s lips nowadays, yet increasingly difficult to sustain, depending on the circumstances. Tolerance is far more easily attained when equality is present – when a religious group cannot push back the rights of others, justifying it as a crusade and needing no other reason than that.

For me personally, as an agnostic (regarding the possibility of a universal order, yet not regarding the artificiality of existing dogmas), this is not directed at one in particular, but rather at the concept of having a state religion, whether officially consecrated in laws or not.

This comes in the context of my country of origin, Romania, being in the process of “defending the traditional family” by modifying the Constitution to have it state that marriage is “between a man and a woman”, by this making sure that any attempt of legalising gay marriage will not be successful in the near future. As things are now, 70 to 80% of voters agree to this measure, partly driven by the feeling that there is an international conspiracy to subvert Christian nations. This is disseminated through part of the media and on a large scale, in churches.

And I can say, not without a fair amount of shame, that a few years ago I used to think like them, when this delusion added to the Christian base of my education. In order to see religion realistically, one must step outside of it and look at it from a distance, just like one has to when wanting to see the whole mountain and cannot do so while sitting under a tree at the foot of it.

In order to see the poison, the distortion and brainwashing one is subjected to when growing up in a religious country.

In this political context, of the need for a culture shift in order for everyone to have equal rights, a false need for preservation is foisted in people by propaganda, which makes them think a so-called soulless western world seeks to upturn their values and impose a Neo-Marxist tyranny upon them. Nothing could be more false.

They are arguing for a fossilised ideal, which was never a reality and can never be – the so-called sacredness of the traditional family, which is, as we speak, laden with a large number of divorces, child abandonment, infidelity and insecurity, on every level.

Moreover, their views on gay people are even more divorced from reality. Their main argument resides in the Bible, in a country which is not a theocracy, yet has managed to maintain a level of religiosity and ignorance enviable by Middle-Eastern theocracies.

For a member of Parliament to cite the Bible as a reason for discriminating against part of the population they are representing seems unreal in 2017, yet that is the reality.

And this reality is quite grim. Because gay people cannot wait for a few generations to enlighten themselves. They need these rights now. In this day and age, they are living as couples in secrecy, because of the risk of facing a backlash if found out. In the current year, in Europe, this is totally out of place. And yet, when this is debated by politicians, Biblical views are cited as relevant.

It’s quite baffling, really, the influence these archaic, unfounded views continue to have.

That other people’s sky goblins have to be shown reverence, or at least a modicum of respect, by those who do not believe in them.

That anyone should think an infringement on their presumed right to discriminate is an infringement on their “freedom of religion”.

Religious brainwashing is not limited to the countries where violence against infidels is encouraged. Christians lead their own “holy wars”. And some of them explicitly target people who are born with a different sexual orientation, and who have done so throughout history.

 

Heaven – The Selfish Mirage

As a child, I often wondered how would marriage after widow-ship fare with Heaven, if a person was supposed to remain with their spouse in the afterlife. Namely which equally legitimate spouse would be one’s eternal companion.

That, of course, was only one small question regarding this mysterious promised land of peaceful green pastures, where everyone, from infants to the elderly, would dwell until the end of time (or outside of it). Well, everyone minus most people on the planet, since the path to “salvation” is supposed to be so “narrow”, so narrow the troubled souls of the living would have to compete in arduousness in order to squeeze into the fortunate convoy.

Arguably, Hell is a much more grotesque and disturbing concept, yet in its own way, Heaven is as well. Atheism aside, if one is spiritual, the whole idea seems very unfair.

First of all, we should assume that arbitrarily, since God decides who lives or dies, he only allows some people a substantial duration of their existence (growing, maturing, becoming wiser), whilst for others that is cut short without the possibility of fully experiencing life on Earth.

Then, the status of children who die without having been christened comes into question: do they go to Heaven as well, and if not, how is this prospect not morally repugnant enough to make people doubt this religion? Some denominations, such as Orthodoxy, claim no one can enter Heaven without the ceremony in this specific rite. Recently, I’ve come across a fanatic online who didn’t deem such people worthy of a conversation on religion, regardless of their views, which is beyond medieval.

There’s something about clinging on to people who have died that seems a bit selfish, from a spiritual perspective – in terms of imagining they’re simply waiting for one’s presence, stacked on a vaporous shelf somewhere, looking down at the living they left behind.

As someone who believes in reincarnation, I find it more reasonable to think that when souls are freed from their mortal bodies they move on to different experiences and continue to grow through them. Reincarnation has long been studied and at times the search revealed cases where coincidence could only be claimed through the sheer belief that this phenomenon is impossible. The work of Dr Ian Stevenson alone is proof that this subject is anything but fiction or wishful thinking.

 

 

Will Most Christians Side With The Right Wing Again, As History Repeats Itself?

In the US at least, right-wing voices are intermingled with that of conservative Christians, all seeming to reach for the same goals, in the grand scheme of things. Of course Christians are greatly diverse, ranging from denominations and their hierarchies to individual believers.

This concern is mostly rooted in the declared support by the current administration of Christian causes, such as promoting religion (and creationism) in schools, stricter abortion laws or a halt in the progressive social engineering (the gender theory etc). While championing for these causes, Christians are being lured into supporting other policies which objectively conflict with their belief system – based on warmongering, xenophobia and corporatism. In terms of warmongering and xenophobia, this phenomenon is oddly reminiscent of the rise of the right in Europe during the 1930s and 40s, in the 20th Century. Though some claim this comparison is a crass exaggeration, there are parallels to be made.

Over the next few years it will be interesting to observe how they will react to the political shift towards isolationism and the ethnic purges envisioned by those favoured to reach power in Europe, as well as those already in power in the US.

Some reactions are positive (in terms of solidarity with the genuine underdog), such as participating in the creation of sanctuaries for immigrants who risk deportation. Indeed, many churches have joined this initiative, together with a number of synagogues and mosques.

The strong message from certain voices is not so encouraging, as many try to get people of faith to engage politically, putting all their support towards the new rise of conservatism, in a manner so uncritical one could compare it to the creation of a cult of personality.

“God will curse Trump’s opponents and their children and grandchildren”

Perhaps no type of rhetoric is more cringey and deserving of a spewing bucket than that of snake-oil-peddling Inforwars&Co, Alex Jones once claiming Trump had been touched by the Holy Ghost, on the night of his inauguration.

Christianity is, nowadays, in the positive sense, associated with humanitarianism, which stands in contrast with most reform ideas conservatives argue for.

Please pardon the minimal research and of-the-cuff nature of this post; the only certainty is that the following years will be very interesting and the true nature of many will be revealed, as individuals and collectives.

 

 

 

“Healing From Toxic Whiteness” – Social Justice And Religion

You won’t be surprised to hear that besides toxic masculinity, sectionable intersectional feminists have come up with the concept of toxic whiteness. In fact, Everyday Feminism is holding a free workshop for those interested in healing from it. It might not involve the handling of live snakes, convulsions and speaking in tongues, but the message is the same – you were born a sinner, you must repent, convert and make amends in order to be saved from yourself.

Like original sin, toxic whiteness goes unnoticed without the sufferer presenting any symptoms; however, akin to chlamydia, that doesn’t mean that it’s not there. In fact, it largely affects those who’ve never suspected they have it – all white people who have not yet repented of their melanin privilege, that is.

And doing healing work in community and not alone makes a big difference. So having a separate anti-racist healing space for white people, led by a person of color who can hold them accountable, is important for white supremacy to be dismantled.

Much like manginas, self-flagellating white people who have not committed one racist act in their entire lives seem to be affected by some sort of masochism, acting as vaseline to help the Marxist bullshit funnel slide down their throats more easily.

What radical socialists want is an enormous mass of converts, regardless of the type of guilt they insidiously instill into their minds. The so-called privileged are not the enemy but a recruitment pool of gullible fools who cannot see beyond adopting a trendy facade, even if the end result is the opposite of what they claim to be supporting – division, segregation and the breeding of actual racism.

It’s difficult to ignore the cult-like nature of social justice activism, if only for the crazed, manic looks it imprints on some people’s faces.

Submit. Repent. We will teach you. Will will heal you. We will deliver you from evil and show you the right path. Fight the good fight with us.

I for one am opposed to the notion of anyone being racist without knowing it or in spite of constantly analysing their potential racism. It seems to me that the people going to that type of event are the last ones needing “reeducated” in that sense.

The whole thing is reminiscent of how Christians go through their every word and thought with a fine-tooth comb, in search of any trace of sin, despite knowing they had no foul intentions to begin with.

Some become fevered with the obsession of being able to participate in changing the world, when in fact they cannot even get passed their own daily trivialities, such as microaggressions or, where Christians are concerned, anything from having wanked the week before to having sworn at an asshole in traffic.

Social justice activism demands total submission and dedication, 24/7. 

People are advised to disassociate from their significant others for contrary views, Scientology-style.

When some of them realise the farce they allowed to take over their existence, it will be too late to undo the damage done to their personal lives, never mind their sanity.

 

 

 

Religion And Creativity

Some say religion, as a spiritual matter which does not interfere with most other aspects of a person’s life, is relatively harmless if one does not engage in proselytism and bigotry. There is at least one instance, to my knowledge, of it interfering with someone’s vocation, when said vocation is artistic and involves creativity, which is based on free thought.

Below I will detail a few qualms I personally dealt with as a writer, for years on end, back when I considered myself a Christian (though never a practicing one).

Unless it glorifies God, all art is supposed to be pointless

Writing for the love of it is therefore a fruitless endeavour one only wastes time on, unless their purpose is to convey a message which is in accordance with religious teachings. Which basically invalidates everything related to purely human experience, including the dubious and sinful, from religion’s point of view. Logically, it would put writings which are intended as morally neutral in the same category. Investing one’s limited days on Earth, energy and emotion into something vacuous would therefore be a waste of time.

One is told they are either “of God” or “of the world” and should not become attached to anything the world offers, as it is a distraction from salvation. In this context you can end up asking yourself if writing is really worth it, if it may well be in vain.

The energy flow and writer’s block

Being stuck in a restrictive paradigm means filtering every thought through your value system, automatically, without even being conscious of it. This leads to strong internal conflict as you’re actually repressing and censoring yourself. For a person who naturally thrives on the creative act, that can be soul-destroying.

Writer’s block, I suspect, might be directly related to this process of limiting or stopping the transcendental flow of energy and the connection to the collective subconscious, which allows access to ancestral wisdom. Dismissing intuition; stopping budding thoughts and hypotheses about the world can only lead to stagnation, which is an unnatural state for the creative mind.

We often hear of  artistically prolific people using substances which stimulate the mind, making it race, to the point of achieving revelations (non-religious ones) about this confusing human experience. More often than not, when expressed, their findings ring true to many others; they are relatable as they strike a chord inside their very core. They gain access to timelessness, to values and ideas far beyond the preconceptions every human being is brought up with.

Filtering thoughts through the tight net of religious permissions means slowing the mind, missing the mark, being constantly thrown off course and never reaching those higher states, unless they can be associated with religious origins. The mind wastes away trying to reconcile the natural and the artificial in order to excel; it’s basically like living with a disease which halts development. One’s path is littered with minutiae, with the imaginary guilt of having violated the ultimate law.

We can plainly see that in the SJW generation as well, as it treats ideologies much like religious dogmas. Every minutia becomes an issue and reality itself is reduced to a source of constant discontent.

 Adult humour and adult themes in general

Though the whole message of a book might not be to actually promote principles contrary to religious teachings, even the inclusion of down-to-earth situations with a neutral attitude can seem “problematic” (I have developed an allergy to that word since SJWs have started using it so frequently, but it is appropriate here).

As someone who employs humour and humorous contexts as often as possible, I’ve found myself coming up with some which were hilarious yet involved sex outside of marriage, adultery, prostitution etc, with no condemnation whatsoever or negative consequences arising from those situations. Which is when I started asking myself – am I promoting this? Am I contributing to the minimisation of the negative effects these aspects have? If I published this, would it be able  to impact someone negatively, even in the slightest?

This is the level of needless guilt someone can experience because of indoctrination, instead of reveling in the fact that they have an open mind (and heart) and refuse to condemn others for behaviours society regards as transgressions. It’s not promotion of said lifestyle choices but merely describing facts of life. Whitewashing life is not possible. We are all prone to error; I know from experience that the little wisdom I have acquired is a result of making mistakes and analysing them in hindsight.

Language

As are risks and mistakes, profanity is also part of life; obstinately choosing a “clean” vocabulary deprives characters of their individuality, of their spontaneity. Letting the energy flow, engaging with the situations they are facing, makes language flow as well, in a multitude of directions.

When you allow that, they take on a life of their own, so to speak, independently of your views and standards of optimal behaviour. Or language.

Proselytism and propaganda

It’s only natural for writers to approach narratives which are close to their hearts and values. And it can be amazing as long as characters are allowed to be individuals with fully developed personalities and not just automatons or loudspeakers for a certain point of view – which religion can certainly cause.

The risk of pedantic, preachy dialogues, I fear, is directly proportional to the level of indoctrination in a certain direction (not necessarily religious, of course). And it’s then that it becomes transparent and feels artificial, and obviously appeals less to others.

There is definitely more to say on this subject, yet these are some important points, hopefully useful as well.

Giving Up Religion

Skimming through search results on this topic, it’s difficult to find those which describe this hurdle as a magnificent stepping stone towards freedom. Many testimonies mention anger, depression, the lack of a moral compass – even hopelessness.

And sure enough, liberation does not come overnight; it’s often a lengthy process, spanning over many months or years. Whereas some people effortlessly declare themselves atheistic or agnostic as they have never fallen into the trap of religion, for others the separation is more painful than an ugly divorce (and divorce is hardly ever pleasant). Writing about such a sensitive issue is bound to require caution; hopefully this post will be more useful than off-putting.

To start with, it makes sense to list a few reasons why quitting religion is so difficult.

  1. It involves permanently altering one’s grasp of reality, often held since their earliest cognitive development. Some people can’t do that without falling apart.

Religion is not a choice, unless one is an adult. While sincerely believing Christianity was the path to salvation; I didn’t have moral qualms with that, having been taught all my life that not bringing kids up into the faith would lead to their perdition. I justified it by arguing the moral values upheld by it were essential and only good could come out of passing them on to others (which is true to a point, if we exclude the fairytales).

By rethinking the light you see the world in, you know you have to rethink every aspect of your life, past and present, realising the errors and delusions you have been trapped in. That means rewriting your story and reconstructing your identity. Every belief, every value you’ve ever had comes under scrutiny; it takes courage to set off on this journey (and sometimes years to find this courage).

Your faith is not just a psychological bond; it’s an emotional bond; it can be your rock when everything else seems to dissipate. Imagining having gone through difficult times without it might seem impossible. But that in itself does not make religion accurate.

Children are so innocent; hearing them talk about mysticism is the funniest thing ever. My kids once believed Death was dwelling inside the building’s electric panel, as it had a skull and bones drawing on it to warn people. In the same way, they believed God lived in our bedroom ceiling. After laughing it off as silly, I started wondering who was in fact being silly about the factual aspects of this deity – them or me.

2. It  involves considering the possibility that spirituality is a fabrication altogether, which to a spiritually-oriented person can feel like life is not worth living at all.

I must confess I’ve never dealt with that fear as my intuition and long account of extrasensory experiences have put my mind at ease that reality as we perceive it with our five senses is not the complete picture (it might be a small part of it in fact). If anything, the doors are now wide open for venturing down any avenue with no worries -ever again – of heresy, eternal damnation and the likes.

3. People are conditioned to think something terrible will happen to them if they become apostates. 

Perhaps I should have started with this one. A precious light bulb moment I had was while listening to a former Scientologist describe how hard it had been to mentally detach from the cult; it had been drummed into her head her entire life that the punishment would be immediate and terrible – her plane would crash, her loved ones would die, her entire existence would be destroyed. Her words echoed my own feelings and the reason why I’d had several unsuccessful attempts to break away from religion. When doing so, I’d attributed everything that had gone wrong in my life to this attempted separation. Therefore, if she could feel that way over a false cause such as Scientology, what made me think my feelings were more true to life?

This ruthless conditioning must be what keeps so many people in line (unless one goes the way of Islam and threatens actual murder when leaving the faith).

4. One can find it hard to separate  from a  kind and loving community, turning into a drifter. 

And I’m not talking about proper cults here. Christians for instance are generally beautiful people, aside from a few fundamentalists who use religion as a way to justify their bigotry (and who would behave in the same manner regardless of their belief system). They cultivate the best aspects of the human personality; listing them is pointless as they are well known. When you become aware that Christianity itself is just a story, with some degree of truth to it, it does not make those around you less sincere in their good intentions and exercise of moral values. You can still respect them for who they are and how they live their lives, without agreeing with them regarding dogmas.

However, if they outnumber you and you’re exposed to their ideology on a frequent basis, you can sometimes doubt your choice, thinking you should perhaps revert to their ways, especially if they seem more at peace than you are.

That said (though definitely incomplete as this subject is SO vast), it now makes sense to list the best parts of becoming free from indoctrination.

1.The liberation of spirituality

The reason for listing this first is that spirituality, in some form, does matter to many people – all but those who consider themselves a hundred percent atheistic and only believe in the existence of what is palpable. When dogma is removed, the word “heresy” flies out the window, never to return; so does the fear of thinking or saying the wrong thing, which might be a gateway to your eternal damnation.

Moreover, reminiscent of mediaeval times, inside the bubble of religion it is forbidden to develop and make use of one’s natural extrasensory abilities, this being classed as occultism or even witchcraft. This can cause a person to stifle these abilities, to push them under as dangerous to their eternal soul, which is yet another way of denying their own nature. The joy of finally valuing this potential is likely to help someone overcome any anxiety regarding the “right path” they are supposedly no longer on.

2. The boulder of Sisyphus

This consists of all the small things which stain our supposed purity on a daily basis, leading to frustration and in many cases, I’m sure, neurosis. All the elation one has when getting out of confession, alas, can last no more than a few minutes, until the next sinful thought which basically takes them back to where they started. And so the boulder returns to its initial place and an exasperated Sisyphus restarts the consuming journey. Again. Ad infinitum.

“From this moment on, I will never again…” You can fill in the blank with any hopeless promise to eliminate imperfections, whether it involves swearing, sexual thoughts or the odd extra glass when no one is watching.

All this guilt and shame over trifles can be avoided by simply becoming aware that if we don’t harm anyone and don’t irreparably harm ourselves, there is no one else to answer to. Certainly not for thoughts and urges which are never acted upon.

Both Christianity and Islam argue that every deed, word and thought is recorded somewhere; those who truly believe that must be absolutely scared of their own minds, obsessing over every thought, compulsively praying for forgiveness and for outside intervention for the thoughts to stop (which never arrives, as whatever you resist persists, as Carl Jung noted).

3. Human nature stops being shameful

Mind over matter is an excellent idea, and is very useful when possible. People in extreme situations – such as solitary confinement in dreadful conditions – manage to survive through the sheer force of their minds.

However, asceticism is not everyone’s cup of tea – and needless to say, does not suit everyone’s ability. The obligation to refrain from certain physical impulses for religious reasons is no more than a tradition passed down through the centuries, much like not washing on a Sunday. It’s unclear to me still if it helps improve self discipline or simply proves the extent of religious conditioning, making people potentially deprive themselves of natural needs for fear of being shamed on Judgment Day.

Regarding strange sexual impulses, addictions etc, religion is perhaps the last place to look for answers, as instead of neutral explanations or theories (such as those put forth by psychology), it welcomes people with threats of eternal fire, or, in a softened, less graphic variation, simply eternal loneliness and misery.

4. Everything stops being satanic 

One of the biggest scares today for religious people is becoming unwittingly enmeshed with demonic elements through popular culture. There are so many videos “exposing” how a certain musical performance displays 666 in the undulations of someone’s butt  when slowed down frame by frame. This obsession with the infiltration of satanism into their minds leads to radical attitudes towards those they identify as potential promoters of satanism or occultism in general. Sometimes, these attitudes are knee-jerk reactions and are not preceded by much thought.

There’s no need for occult symbolism for these people to be a bad influence – just listen to the superficiality popular music promotes. It’s all out in the open; they’re trying to downgrade the human species to an Idiocracy type of dystopia.

But wait – wasn’t Satan musically gifted and able to play all instruments? If these people really were possessed, how come their skills are so poor they have to resort to mating calls to attract attention, like rodents under a bush on a dark alley? How about some craftsmanship FFS?  Is Lady Gaga all Satan can do?  Maybe he’s been a victim of overestimation.

There is so much more to say and definitely doesn’t fit into one post, without turning it into a short story. The issue is that letting go of religion needn’t be demoralising – not for a single day.