Veganism as a World View

Once upon a time in a previous life I was a right-wing-conservative-christian-meat-loving kid. I grew up learning everything I could about the bible and spent every weekend going to church and many weekinghts in bible studies of various kinds.

A common topic that came up from time to time was about understanding the christian worldview and how it differed and bested other worldviews. A worldview could be defined by answering four basic questions. 1) where did we come from? 2) what went wrong? 3) how do we correct it? 4) where do we go from here?

For christians the answers are, God created us, we sinned, believe in jesus, go to heaven / live a blessed life. Most of christianity fits neatly into those answers.

Those answers turn out to be a wonderfully appealing target for post-modern deconstructionists, of whom I got tangled up with. Long story short, I found the christian answers lacking and vowed to leave my life of devotion behind.

A few years went by and I became increasingly concerned about my health. My weight was steadily increasing and the excersize to maintain it became unreasonably brutal. I worried as I saw a 30-something colleague go in for heart surgery. I knew I wasn’t too far off from that.

I went vegan and as a result, I no longer have to worry about heart disease, diabetes, most cancers, stroke, and most of the other american diseases. My weight has been steadily decreasing, whether I work out or not. And my desire to be active is at an all time high. Something is just working right for my body that wasn’t before.

I explained all this to a friend, which lead to a lively debate. I went home thinking I had said too much. The weekend passed and he wrote to me saying “your claims check out. I’m going vegan”. I helped answer a few more questions and pointed him towards some great vegan products.

An odd feeling overcame me. One that I hadn’t felt for years. It took me most of the day to place it. Then it dawned on me, I was rejoicing. Just like I used to rejoice when someone I knew became a christian, I was experiencing the same kind of feeling, albeit in a non-religious way about my friend becoming a vegan.

I couldn’t help but draw parallels back to my old religion. But did this mean that veganism was my new religion? No, the health and societal benefits of veganism are based on fact and backed up by an impressive array of studies. Religion, on the other hand, requires an unavoidable ammount of faith, no matter how much circumstantial evidence one cites. What could it be then?

The lessons on world views came rushing back to my mind. How would I answer the four questions now? Let’s see:

1) Where did we come from?

We evolved from a nothingness that noone really understands. Our species evovled and adapted perfectly to its environment. The biological evidence is clear, humans are herbivores. Though it’s possible for us to eat meat, the vast eons we spent evolving geared us to eat plants and plants alone.

2) What went wrong?

Somewhere along the line we started eating meat, probably at first for survival and now as a mass-marketed right of red-blooded Americanism. Through some well intentioned but faulty studies our scentists and doctors became convinced our bodies required animal protien. Then through some crafty and devious “studies” designed to protect the animal production industry our society stopped asking the right questions.

Governments bought into the myths big time. Literally. The United States Government, for one, sunk billions into subsidies for animal products. That’s why a hamburger costs less than a salad. That’s why you can get beef for 4 dollars a pound. It’d cost you 90 without the subsidies.

We started eating the way only aristocrats could once afford. As a result, we started getting the diseases that only aristorcats got. Even worse, we got used to pain, suffering and grief caused by those diseases. Most people think it’s normal for loved ones to die of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Just like we think it’s normal to alleviate our own diseases with advil, zantac, lipitor, paxil, viagra and anything else advertised during the nightly news.

I won’t even go into the environmental cost of all this. Suffice to say, you’re not an environmentalist if you’re not a vegan. Simple as that. I don’t care if you’ve lead your communities recycling efforts, drive a Prius or a bike, you don’t give a shit about the earth if you still eat meat.

3) How do we correct it?

Stop eating meat, dairy and eggs. Vegan food tastes better anyway.

4) Where do we go from here?

Into a world where disease is uncommon, people are vital, minds are fit and the environment slowly returns to stasis.

So there you have it. Veganism as a worldview, not a religion. So why did I have that pseudo-religious feeling of rejoicing? Well, I think it’s pretty simple. Rejoicing, like most emotions that religion co-opts, existed long before religion ever came around.

Life as a Liberal Atheist

Every so often I run into someone from my past and slowly get around to explaining that I no longer go to church and and consider myself an atheist. For a moment, a stunned look appears as they briefly consider how I used to be a part of the worship band, deeply involved in bible studies, working at christian companies and generally doing everything In the Spirit. From there the conversation goes a bunch of different ways but the thing each conversation has is an attempt by them to find the thing that pushed me over the edge, the one thing that made me an anthiest and not a believer. I get the sense that 'one thing' is often the last thing they heard from a pastor about why atheists are not christian. What is that one thing? Is it anger towards God, a bad church experience, a misunderstanding of the scripture, what is it?

I try to explain that it isn't one thing, its was a thousand different reasons. It's that the Bible flat out doesn't make sense, has a poor history, contradicts itself everywhere. It's the people in churches, the control structures, the lies and deceit. It's the church I was in where the pastor raped the co-pastor, it's the close mindedness, it's the nature of God and the completely unreasonable notion of an extraterrestrial creature that loves and cares for me but will send me to eternal damnation if I blaspheme his Holy Ghost personality. It's all that and a thousand more reasons.

Towards the end of a particularly long conversation, a friend began describing how the world exists on two planes; a physical one and a spiritual one. We have to contend with the spiritual plane, live and breath on it, reach out to God on it. He explained how the Deceiver works to try to confuse us. So I asked him if he believed that Satan exists. Yes. Ok, then do you think that I might be influenced by Satan. Yes. Do you think that I am currently deceived by Satan. Yes. Ok. Well then, conversation over. I have nothing left to say to someone who tells me I'm possessed. And this was coming from a very very smart entrepreneur.

My friend had exceptionally rational opinions on most things in life. Yet when confronted with the myriad of reasons I would choose not to have a relationship with his extraterrestrial being he would rather admit that I was possessed by satan than to admit that my experience might somehow be valid.

In my conversations with Chrisitians, the most common argument I heard was this. "You just had a horrible rotten church experience. If you went to my church you would see a much better side to christianity". Whatever I say, that's the argument I'd get back. If I explained the history of Sun Gods and how they relate to Jesus, I get the same answer, "If you believe that then you should really come to church this sunday and talk to our pastor, he'll be able to help you with that". If I metioned theology, then I just hadn't been exposed to *their* theology, the right one, the one based on the Bible. And on and on it goes.

The problem with churches is that they're wonderful, loving, beautiful, kind places right up until the moment where they're not. The problem with theology is that it's deep, meaningful, profound, thought provoking, life changing, right up until it the moment that it isn't. For most Christians, this is when all those sermons on doubt kick in. All the sermons about "I believe, help my unbelief" and "you just have to trust, even when it's hard", and thousands of other cliches that you can't go a week without hearing. Those all kick in like little antibodies, attacking your most rational thoughts, dragging you back in. In my case I formed an early immunity to it when I convinced myself that guilt couldn't possibly be a christ-like feeling. I worked hard to clear myself of guilt. It had the unintended affect of disarming my doubt. Slowly my doubt faded. Slowly I found a way out, I could begin with grey, or in other words, begin with an open mind, a clean slate.

Options for the Atheist Christian

So this blog is proving to be sort of an interesting journal of someone going from doubting christianity to leaving it altogether.
I eventually concluded that christianity is a horribly flawed mythology and found out that I was far from alone.

So how did I get from fervently singing to Jesus "My Jesus, My Savior, Lord there is none like you..." to believing I was caught up in an elaborate myth? I've thought about this so much and my best conclusion is Community.

My need for a close community was so great that I would sacrifice rational thought for a pat on the back. I would rather believe that everyone that doesn't subscribe to my beliefs would be eternally tortured by the Savior I praised than to jeopardize my close ties to my friends and family.

Choose rationality or choose your community. It's an outrageously difficult choice to make and the answers to the doubting christian are few:

Try to make it all make sense, claim that your faith is rational and fervently fight those who claim otherwise

Flame bait, I know. The problem with this is that it simply doesn't work. You can argue all you want and you can learn all the most obscure facts but you soon realize you're winning arguments by simply throwing the greatest number of red herrings. Your opponent eventually looses interest and walks away. You don't believe me? Argue with a UFOlogist for an hour and you'll see what I mean. They will claim obscure fact after obscure fact until you leave them alone.

Another approach is to pick an argument and claim it is universally true. "Man needs redemption from sin" is a good start, or pick any of Ravi Zacharais' arguments.

Quietly ignore the doctrines that don't make sense.

This is a safe bet for awhile. I got a good number of years out of this one. I stopped believing in seven-day creation, as I hope a good many christians have. Bit by bit, other doctrines and beliefs fell away. Demons were replaced by cognitive therapy, literal interpretation by allegory.

The problem is you can only ignore doctrines for so long. Eventually you run into problems with healing (God doesn't heal amputees), gays (generally treated worse than samaritans) and on. And when you get to the big questions on Hell, you'll have a hard time staying quiet. In conservative circles, thoughts against the Iraq war will get you in trouble. Try to stay quiet, but you'll be found out. Still, it works for a good long time.

Find a denomination that defines doctrines more like you do.

There is by some counts upwards of 33,000 to choose from. Certainly not that many in your local area, but you get the idea. Jump around long enough and you'll find people who quietly ignore the same kinds of things you quietly ignore. Literal interpretation of large portions of the bible will be replaced with fervent admonitions to "Trust in the Lord" and "Don't stray from Him". You'll be told it's the relationship with Jesus that counts more than anything. Eventually that gets old. You can only go so long with radio silence from the big guy upstairs before you start getting suspicious.

However, if you really like your new friends and they really like you, chances are it won't matter much anyway. You'll take their collective words as words from the Holy Spirit and go on about your life. This works until they give you some really bad advice. It'll happen.

Concentrate solely on the 'good parts' of the Bible.

I.e. the ones that match the generally accepted morality of our times. So out with the old testament genocide and new testament stonings. This seems to be the generally appropriate way for the Emerging Church and a number of liberal denominations as well. There is a ton of great advice in the Bible and good happy things to like in it. There's the kind and generous Jesus that does nice things for the world. The kind of guy you want to be like when you get a bit older. That works for a lot of people, for a long time. It's probably one of the few reasonably good things that christians can end up doing. Still no matter how much you concentrate on the good in the Bible, there's still some really nasty, racist, mean, violent and awful stuff in there. Why not just let go of it and just be good? If you're too the point that you are judging what is good in the Bible and what isn't, then you are already using the good common morality that humanity is increasingly evolving.

Become a pew sitting atheist.

I tried this for awhile. I know others that have been doing it for years. In the end I just couldn't get myself to worship a mythical god-man-ghost. I tried as hard as I could to just see the general spirituality in it all, but couldn't get there. I couldn't take another sermon that insisted I "just believe" or "pray more" or "serve more".

Look at your wise christian elders and say "if it's good enough for them, its good enough for me."

I propped my faith up with this one for a long time. I figured none of my pastors would stake their careers on a myth. What I learned was that this was exactly what they would do because they have the most to lose. It was a hard enough decision for me to make to leave my christian circles, but my entire livelihood isn't tied up in it. For many pastors expressing doubt in their faith would land them in the poor house.

Where's my Lightning Bolt?

In the christian circles I was in, we were told in that God never promises a life free from hurt "just the opposite!" the preacher would exclaim, giving example after example from the bible as to why he believed that was true.

Then following that, the preacher would call up a few people to give their testimony about how bad their life was when they weren't a christian and how much better their lives had become now that they were walking with Christ. We'd hear from the former alcholic drug addict atheistic heritic and get more than a bit jealous we didn't have an awesome testimony like that. We'd hear from the former backslider who confirmed it was true, life without Jesus was so much worse.

Testimony after testimony, the message was clear, your life as a Christian is so much better than it otherwise would be. Like their infomercial equivalents, these mini messages were designed to tell you all the good news, without dragging you down into the messy details of daily life with the product.

Go to enough services, enough evangelical rallies and you're left with a dichotomy you 'll never really settle. In one moment you're told through all the testimonies that your life should be just rosy with Christ. In the next you're trying to figure out why your life isn't as pain free as the testimonials claim it should be.

I spent year after year trying to solve this one. Everyone I knew was doing the same thing. "You just have to trust that Jesus is doing a mighty work in your life", one person would say. "You just have to hand it all over to Jesus", another would say. All we were doing was trying to figure out why life with the Jesus Brand wasn't what the commercials said it should be.

In a long line of dogma I'm trying to deconstruct, this thought of hurt is ripe for rethinking. As I dissembled my beliefs about christ and deity I kept on waiting for the lightning strike - that promised painful reminder that I was walking away from all that was good and healthy. But it didn't happen. At least not like that.

I still get hurt from time to time, relationships go sour, people say mean things, I still get colds. And I still learn from my mistakes. But, the most amazing thing, I heal just like I always did. Except this time I heal without having reconcile the impossible. I know my life isn't perfect, won't be perfect, shouldn't be perfect.

As a christian my life was about upholding this Christainity, which bared much greater similarity to multi-national corporate brand than it did a faith. When I lived under the Brand, I had to reconcile all my ups and downs with the Brand. Now that I'm free of that, I'm free to get hurt and to heal without having to figure out how it all fits with "God's plan", whatever that might be.

42 scenes in the life of a former fundamentalist christian

This blog has been extra sparse, but that's pretty much how I've intended it to be - a journal I write in to document my gradual change in belief about Christianity.

I've gone from being an on-fire conservative christian evangelical fundamentalist republican participating in all things church to a liberal ex-christian democrat who thinks that Christianity is at best a nice collection of moral beliefs and at worst, a harmful establishment bent on controlling its congragents.

Here's a brief glimpse of various points of my life of faith.

Growing Up

  • Grew up as a pastor's kid
  • Got saved as a seven year old
  • Did all the right christian things
  • Rarely got in trouble, never drank or did drugs or say bad words
  • Got saved, or "recommitted", over and over at every youth camp
  • Went to high school and ignored all 'worldly people' in favor of my youth group friends.
  • Joined the church praise band
  • Attended countless bible studies
  • Constantly felt like I was failing christ for the smallest of reasons.
  • Constantly felt guilty for "sinning"
  • Went to bible camp every year
  • In my later years at bible camp, I started to draw parallels with some of the bible camp practices and cult practices. remained committed to the idea of christianity despite some of the practices of it.
  • Believed that the 'Holy Spirit' would lead me in anything I did from the mundane search for lost car keys, to major life decisions about where to live and what career to persue.
  • Started to question what the difference was between the holy spirit and intuition. could I believe in both?
  • Graduated high school, switched churches to a less holy-spirit-centric church.
  • Got married
  • Rose in the ranks of the local megachurch social structure.
  • Became increasingly frustrated by the 'subtexts' of all the sermons I heard. Despite what the subject matter was, I felt like pretty much every sermon I heard came down to a handful of actual advice. Be more christ-like, pray more, doubt less.
  • Became frustrated with christian friends who would justify outrageously bad decisions with empty god-talk.
  • When questioning this point, was told, and wholeheartedly believed that it was wrong to judge the christian belief based on the actions of a few christians.
  • Wholeheartedly believed that no matter how bad any given christian acted, it was their fault for not understanding the bible well enough and by no means the fault of the bible's message.

On Healing

  • Our family was hit with a major life threatening and life altering disease
  • Watched friends become convinced god loved and cared for them because they found good sales on appliances and parking spots a just the right time.
  • Questioned what was so wrong with me that god would answer a prayer for an appliance sale but wouldn't heal a disease in my family.

The Bible

  • became a part of the emerging church movement since that was the only place i could find christians who were ok with questioning the sacred cows of christianity.
  • started to understand that there was more than one way to interpret the bible (i'll go into this more in my next post)
  • became convinced that the conservative and fundamentalist take on the bible had some serious flaws in it.
  • learned that christ's story was far from unique. before christ, there were dozens of heros who were claimed to have been born of virgins, lived sinless lives, turned water into wine, rose from the dead three days after being murdered.
  • questioned why paul (who wrote the majority of the new testament), knew next to nothing about jesus's life. he mentions only 3 of 27 significant events in christ's life.
  • decided that the bible is filled with far too many absurdities and contradictions to be taken literally. though taken figuratively, it has a great wealth of wisdom and good stuff.


  • I once believed that it was impossible for a practicing homosexual to be a christian, live a ethical life (christian or not), or go to heaven without denouncing their "sin".
  • Heard the stories of many christian and non-chrisitan gays.
  • Began questioning my conservative beliefs that gays were sinners and must be converted "or else".
  • Learned that the biblical evidence against gays wasn't all it was cracked up to be due to bad translation, poor understanding of ancient culture and just plain missing the point.


  • Believed that because the "Bible just says it's so" and "God demands justice" and "We'll learn why later" that it was just fine if billions of people suffered eternal conscious torture without any hope of post-mortem redemption.
  • Decided that there's no good way to believe in a God who destroys most of his creation.
  • Learned that the fundamentalist view of hell is far from the only reasonable way to interpret the ancient texts.

Pro-life Pro-choice Pro-war Pro-peace

  • Began questioning my pro-life belief once I realized I couldn't reconcile my, at the time, pro-war and pro-life beliefs.


  • Wondered why God doesn't seem to heal amputees.
  • Became exhausted by trying to "discern God's will through prayer and supplication" and instead decided to rely on the logic and reason I believed God created. I can't begin to explain how much easier this one shift made my life.
  • Decided that prayer is a great way to focus our attention on things that matter. just like meditation and a thousand other practices from all kinds of religions.


  • Picked up a silly little book at the book store that nonetheless contained some faith altering questions. decided that atheism might not be all bad after all
  • Listened to Penn Jillette describe his life as an atheist in an public radio broadcast. I began to doubt that all atheist were raving angry heathens with no sense of morality.
  • Learned that there were plenty of atheists who did good in the world simply for the sake of doing good while I did good in the world only to prove that I was really saved.


At this point of time I'd say that I am very much against the conservative and fundamentalist christian ideologies. I think while there are some great people in those communities, on the whole they get it wrong. In my life I have only seen conservative churches succeed by spreading doctrines of fear.

On the other hand, I see that there is a kind of christianity that I was never aware of. A kind that says that the bible doesn't have to be literal to be true, that other faiths might also be right, that a literal hell might not exist, that the devil might be a literary device.

So at this point I don't wish for a world without religion or christianity. I just hope for a world where logic and reason trumps negative religious dogma; where faith and hope are a means to peace not war; and where religion is allowed to evolve and support science rather than deny it.

Quitting the Program

So in my last post i was on the brink of atheism. since then, quite a lot has happened. most recently i quit my bible study.

i was in a very exclusive bible study. it was by invite only and limited to people the bible study leader thought would seriously get into the bible. i don't think i realized how exclusive it was when i started. my wife and i were under the impression that it was fairly diverse; as there were a number of couples from different churches attending. we joined sometime around last july. it was going to be a sort of "inductive bible study" and we were going to dive deep into the scripture. and we did, often spending two hours and covering little more than a few verses.

i don't think i was supposed to change the way i did. they had no idea that i was reconsidering my faith all together and whether i wanted to be a christian. and really i just sort of kept quiet in the study.

that all changed a few weeks ago when i had just about had enough of it. they were talking about sin and using the most prime example of sin they could imagine, homosexuality. so i decided to say something about it. i told them that i thought that that issue, along with others wasn't nearly as air tight as they had thought. and so started three weeks of some of the most intense debate i've been a part of.

basically they weren't open to much of what i had to say and i wasn't open to much of what they had to say. they just wanted me to back everything up with the holy word or at the very least with some reputable bible scholars and i really don't care to. that's not because i couldn't it's just not my approach, and i know they wouldn't respect any reference i could produce any more than they could respect me.

and so that's what it came down to. respect. i argued that homosexuality wasn't necessarily a sin and that hell didn't necessarily exist and that there might be other ways to interpret the bible, but they would have none of it. i was just someone who was falling away from truth, from their truth. at one point they even tried to convince me that their combined intelligence should be a good resource to me in figuring things out. with their degrees and studies in intelligence and deep theological background there was really no reason for me to question them. so they thought. of course, i was supposed to cower in their greatness. because obviously my intelligence was of no consequence.

i don't think that they realized why i was even being a part of the debate. it wasn't to debate the fine points of theology or anything like that. i just wanted to see if they were open to different ideas, even if those ideas were irrational from their point of view. and so, admittedly i was mixing things up a bit, i was somewhat bombastic in my approach. for example, one of them mentioned something about hell and i said 'sure that makes sense, if you believe in hell'. that's probably the most tactless way i could introduce that topic, but i just wanted to see what would happen. at one point i think i started agreeing with every other thing they said. because for me, i can often find a way to agree with anything people say if i want to. it's just a matter of agreeing on a different level. so that's what i did.

i guess what i was trying to find out was if i could break all the rules of debate, agree with things inconsistently, fail to provide credible sources and all of that. i just wanted to see if there was anything left to their faith beyond that. because, i mean, there really should be something. should our beliefs really come down to argument and debate? should our respect for others really come to that? i wanted to know if they would really hold to all of that or if they would embrace someone who was questioning and show some love beyond the arguments.

i was told that arguing with a group of hard core christians was really a futile thing to do. they don't ever change their minds, they don't ever consider other options. i think i knew this but it was really important to me to see it for myself. i wanted to give them a chance to see things from another viewpoint. they even said multiple times that they wanted that too, but when i really had things to say, they just wanted to see an airtight scholarly case for that. and when i could give them that, then i was just intellectually inferior and my arguments were of no use.

this whole thing is so amazingly and completely and thoroughly sad to me! i think i'm starting to understand what it means to have an open mind. but what a closed mind they were convinced i had. i wasn't open to anything they had to say, they told me about the bible and told me with great passion about how all truth originates from the bible and how i just needed to read what says. it is just so simple, the bible just says this and it says that. why couldn't i just be content with what it clearly stated? why couldn't i just get with the program?

what i couldn't figure out how to say was that i really was open to understanding it was just that they weren't telling me anything new. I had heard all those arguments before and had argued them myself a hundred times. i couldn't get with the program because i no longer believed in the program.

and that's what it seems to have come down to. i can't really tell which of their beliefs are core to them and which ones are just about being with the program. it seems that modern christianity is presented as this one monolithic package. sure it's easy to get in the door and say the sinner's prayer, but you've only just begun. what happens is that sunday after sunday, study after study, you're given more and more things to believe that are part of the program. even worse, you're given increasing doses of fear to make sure you stay with the program. don't question it. don't even think about questioning it. if you do need to question it, well it better just be temporary and you need to just call it doubt. but everything will be ok as long as you return to the program.

it's late and i should really continue this in another post.

On the brink of atheism

"I picked a great night not to be a christian", I told my wife just seconds after leaving a dinner party that included a couple Campus Crusader missionaries.

No one is ever supposed to just stop being a christian and i certainly never imagined the thought would ever cross my mind. I've known christ practically all my life, been a part of all the christian things, prayed the big prayers and said all the right kinds of words. I stayed on the map all my life never venturing off, always believing no matter what. I've debated skeptics and atheists and prayed hard for my "unsaved" friends.

I wish I could say that it was something dramatic that provided the boost for me to reconsider my faith. It wasn't. It's just been a slow process and in some way allowed and mildly encouraged in by the emerging church. through that movement i've found that not everyone felt all gung-ho about saving the world through religious domination.

i'm sure someone could use that to damn the emerging church. "what!? you allowed someone to question?! and now they're questioning the most fundamental beliefs!?". yeah yeah.

it wasn't that though, and it wasn't any major life change or event or let down or anything. i heard about a book that promised to challenge perceptions and it sounded interesting. i drove to my local bookseller and started reading. i didn't realize how things were about to change. it wasn't so much the book than it was how the author confirmed things i had thought about my faith for a very long time.

within chrisitanity i've seen so many excesses and evil things. i've seen churches control their congregations and their congregants allow them so willingly. i've seen entire churches rise and fall, not for any reason other than their own pride. the formulas seem so cut and dry, everyone gets something for doing something. and so it has been easy to see church as grand misguided, albeit well intentioned, machine.

and as my view of church began to wane it wasn't so surprising that my bible reading ("devotions") became less and less. i know some would try to convince me that that was a cause not an effect, but i don't think that's the case.

i've had a bit of an interest lately in studying the church of scientology, not at all because i would ever want to join, but simply because i'm fascinated with how cults draw their people in and keep them. i've watched a friend loose almost everything to an MLM that works on similar principles. and i've questioned more and more how the modern church's tactics differ from either of those examples.

that's not to say it's all bad. i don't think it is. i think most christians i've known are well intentioned and not at all given to deceit. but then again nice things could be said about scientologists as well.

so all of this led up to my reading that book. it's a pretty simple little book where the main character tries to find the simplest most straight forward explanations for anything and everything. and you know what? after years and years in the church, after hearing thousands upon thousands of sermons, after reading countless volumes by the all the most respected theologeans, i was taken apart.

i sat in the near empty fluorescent lit bookstore listening to best muzak could offer at the moment, my faith dismantled word by word, page by page.

some might say, if that's all it took than i really had no faith to begin with. maybe, but why are we so quick to blame the lost rather than the beliefs?

what i found is that christianity, as it is most often known, hangs precariously on a few assumptions. while the occasional doubt had crossed my mind many times, i just assumed the need for a loving caring, all knowing, omnipotent being who sent his son in human form to take away my sins. much work had been done to convince me of this and to wrap my emotions into this mythology so that i could scarcely know myself apart from it.

i found myself asking why my reality required such a mythology. why does my reality require an omnipotent being, and why a virgin birth and why any of that? If God knows everything, sees everything and can do anything, what possible motive would he have to create anything? out of love? maybe, but it wasn't really making sense. it just isn't the simplest explanation for observable reality.

i began to wonder, though not for the first time, if the Bible and all of its truth was really just well refined wisdom passed down through the ages, a sort of way of saying, here's how to live a pretty good life and not get too messed up. and it does this in just the sort of way all religions do. i thought that maybe i could finally stop trying to defend every little thing that seems awry with the scripture and start living life as best i could.

i'm not eager to go dump the scriptures and it's moral teaching like a college student who is at last freed from parental rule. if anything, it's a harder life to live to not believe in God, but it does seem to be a good deal simpler than what i was trying to make work as a christian. i no longer have to worry about whether or not someone should be included or excluded, listened to or ignored, loved or rejected. i don't have to figure out if i'm living every little detail of my existence in accordance with a community i fear will judge my every weakness.

i can get on with living my life. to quote Penn Jillette:
"Believing there's no God stops me from being solipsistic. I can read ideas from all different people from all different cultures. Without God, we can agree on reality, and I can keep learning where I'm wrong. We can all keep adjusting, so we can really communicate."
i wasn't ever privy to this concept within the walls of Christianity. it was just fine with my community that i have no "unsaved" friends. besides, i figured i was just better off that way. and if i did befriend a worldly person, i needed to find every opportunity to let them know that i was a christian and they should be one too. i guess that explains why i didn't have so many unsaved friends.

if i had, maybe i would have heard some of these thoughts a little earlier. maybe i would have found out that the unsaved really weren't as lost in life as i had been led to believe.

now a few days have passed. i went to church on sunday and stood in the pews and sang the songs and listened to the sermon and had a sense of the sacred that i can't fully describe. i think i'm starting to get a little perspective on what i've experienced this week.

it's basically this. i'm so fed up with christianity as i have always known it. i've gone from being the kid that said all the right christian things to an adult on the brink of atheism. i've seen some great moments in the church. but more and more, i've seen that great moments are hardly exclusive to the church. in fact, christians are, on the whole, no different from the surrounding society.

i'm not alone in thinking this. and fortunately i seem to have found a church that proves there is an exception to the madness. it's the type of church that i feel like if i were to make the step into atheism i wouldn't be respected any less. that's refreshing. there is, for the first time in my experience, a community that i don't think is keen on judging my every action or belief.

on the whole though, i'm not sure i would recommend anyone become a christian if it means going to the types of churches i've grown up in. i would instead recommend reading about Jesus and making your mind up from there.

as the service progressed on sunday i considered my main question... why do we need a christian mythology at all? what is it about reality that necessitates all of that? isn't there a simpler, more up-to-date explanation for existence? I think that there is, but i'm not sure that explanation accounts for the sacred. i know this is circular logic, and christians are notorious for such logic. but there's something that defies logic in what we experience in the sacred.

so where am i with all of this? i'm not convinced that christianity as i have known it will ever have the answers i'm looking for, but i think that there's a new christianity on the horizon. one that somehow corrects the types of problems that have plagued my christian experience to date. one that is so true to what Christ taught that even the most enlightened monk, the most devout athiest, the most burned out evangelical or the most uninterested agnostic might find its truth compelling. it's happened in the past, and perhaps it's time for it to happen again.

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