Sunday, December 23, 2012

An Introduction: On Anger, and the Pursuit of Truth

My dear readers:

It has been a wild ride here lately. I've had a lot of changes coming for me, most of which have been a long time coming. I cannot properly express to you how much so many things have grieved me lately. I am a man consumed in sorrow and in joy all at once, feeling the necessity to make changes for no other reason than my pursuit of truth, and my pursuit of being happy in life. I take this to mean that I am being who I am correctly. However, I think that this has not been the norm for me for a long time. Allow me to explain why.

As much as I try to keep this blog impersonal, I must address something publicly that may or may not be relevant to you. It has been asserted that I am a very angry person lately. This is not the first time I have been told this, and I doubt it will be the last. However, this time presents an opportunity to explain some things.

I have been a person of faith for as long as I can remember. A lot of the reason I started on this path is because I was terrified of the divine being I was told about from a very young age throwing me into hell to burn and be tortured and alone for eternity. I still have panic episodes over this deeply engrained fear, for whatever reason. However, over time my faith became something I was very militant about, and something I became extremely passionate about. Even now, I can discuss Christian theology and spirituality with anyone that wants to.

Christianity has made me very angry for years. I used to be angry when people would attack my beliefs, and I used to be angry when people told me I wasn't really a Christian. As it turns out, the second group may have been correct all along. I became a very liberal Christian in college, and the reason I did is because Christian theology had become untenable. I looked at this book I'd been told to believe, I looked at history, I looked at alternate views, and I looked at my own reasoning. I then concluded that the Bible is a legendary text and nothing more, and that God is something separate from the religion of Christianity, even though I still believed in Jesus.

Understandably, a lot of people told me that I had watered down my faith, that I had taken all of its' "teeth" away from it. I had a professor at my college tell me publicly that I did not care about the truth because of my views, and any support I received from authority figures was very tentative, as most of them were either trying to save me, and the rest were trying to explain me. Very rarely was I straight up asked about things, and I was told it was because I'm a very intimidating person. This is perhaps true.

I was raised to be angry because I was raised in fear, which turned to militancy, which turned to feeling stepped on and excluded, which turned into resentment. It is not a good position to be in, and it has affected me more than I can possibly estimate. I can spend my time blaming people, but in the end, I blame the system. Christianity cannot escape its' abuses, and this is a very inflammatory view It is possible that all of my anger has become an issue lately merely because of my change of beliefs, so allow me to be blunt.

Yes, I am no longer a Christian, and yes, Christianity does make me angry. I am sure a lot of you feel like your beliefs are being attacked, but let me assure you: I never intend to attack someone's personal beliefs. If I stepped over that line, I am sorry. I endeavor to be objective when discussing these things, and sometimes my passion gets the best of me. There is a reason I tend not to say anything when certain things come up: I tend to go too far, and then everyone gets intimidated by my passion and my reasoning. I tend to be very transparent about these things, and it is my gift to people. I think that most people deserve the truth from me. I am very sorry if my anger has gotten involved and this has all gotten out of hand.

However, it is very important to me that you all understand one thing just as much. I have not made the decision not to be a Christian lately for any other reason than that I do not believe it is true. When I look at Evolution and the origin of biological life, when I look at sociology, history, psychology, archaeology, anthropology and when I really really think and read and research and question and conclude, I do not believe that Christianity is anything more than another historical religion that happens to be involved with the politics and culture of the country I live in.

I would not have decided to publicly leave the faith I grew up in for any other reason than that I do not think it is true. I have paid for it dearly by doing so, and I will continue to do so with friendships, the deterioration of my relationships with people that are religious, and with a lot of misunderstanding. I have paid for it with my mental and emotional state lately, and I have paid for it with my health. I will probably continue paying for it with some of these things, though I believe that the best thing for me to do at this point is to move on and live well, because I also believe that I am right and that I am living rightly.

This is an invitation to anyone that runs across this blog. I don't care if what you have to say is that you hate everything I am doing and think I'm wrong: I want to have conversations. I will not back down from my position without a very good reason, but if you give me a good reason to do so and I am convinced that it is the truth, I will in a second. Surely I have proven that by now, and I hope that I have proven that I respect other people, even if I've never done so perfectly.

Though I do hope you all understand how grieved I am that my relationships with some of you have suffered for the direction I've gone lately, I must make one thing perfectly clear.

I am right to be angry. I am not just angry, I am furiously enraged at the religion I grew up in, because I feel it is unjust, abusive, psychologically destructive, culturally and historically anachronistic, morally offensive, and a historical and political nightmare. What I have gone through is nothing compared to so many people that have been on the other end of religion in general, and I am grateful that the most I have to deal with is some odd emotional things and some awkward conversations with people. This is something that I feel even those that are a part of Christianity still can agree with, even if they are still "believers." Many would say that Christian history is bloody and it is an indication of man's "fallen" state. Where we differ is that I do not agree with that explanation, nor do I place the same trust in the historic Christian church as they do.

What you must understand is that anger is not an emotion that I feel toward Christians. My family's faith is still Christianity, with me being the sole exception. This could make me feel very alone, but I still love them very much, and they still love me very much. I respect many Christians I know very much, and believe they are very smart and educated people. Though I would not disagree with them if I didn't think I was right, this does not mean that I'm going to be hostile or degrading. That's not the person I have ever been, and though I've never been perfect in my goals to respect others, I try my best to do so, regardless of my position on issues, and I expect the same respect from people in discussions. I can no longer tolerate the imposed self-degradation I'm expected to take on in the name of being moral or holy.

I plan on making a series of posts in the next few weeks regarding my "deconversion" from Christianity, because I believe a lot of my regular readers are stunned and confused or angry about the seeming suddenness with which I have changed. It is important to me that you all understand where I'm coming from, and why things have ended up this way, and what my thoughts are.

Lastly, I wish to extend one final sentiment. Regardless of what one believes or how one deals with life, I believe we can all respect each other. It is my hope that the future of humanity is full of that respect, and that we can continue to grow together and leave behind all of that that would get in the way of truth and of love.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

There Comes a Day.

"When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought as a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways." - 1 Corinthians 13:11

I always liked this statement.

I write today to commemorate and appreciate what I've learned growing up how I have. I've spoken a lot lately about how I've been traumatized by religion when growing up and how I've moved away from faith, but another part of my journey lately has been recognizing the good that came from this subculture, for it is just as true.

Without Christianity, I would not have made the friends I have. Without Christianity, I would not have ended up the person I am today. Without Christianity, I would not have the unique and powerful perspective I've ended up with, nor would I be able to do what I will do in the future. For this, I am grateful, among a thousand other things. I can still debate theology with the best theologian out there and stalemate them at best, and that is something I take pride in. Not because I find theology to be true, but because I find it to have been a useful tool for abstract thought and for the development of a very unique sort of logic.

God, as a concept, is wondrously fascinating to me. Growing up, I went through phases of what I believed about god. I believed in his sovereignty and his absolute deterministic control in high school, and it's intriguing to note that I was also more rejected and alone than I ever have been in my life during that time. I needed control, I needed someone who could give me a measure of control, who could assure me that everything would be okay, and if that meant I affirmed that infant deaths resulted in more souls in hell, then so be it. Horrifying, but where my soul was is still apparent.

I then became intrigued with god as a lover. When things got better in my life, I began to be intrigued by these notions of god as a pursuer, god as a gentleman, god as not necessarily a father or even male, but genderless and transcendent, sublime and complete and still wanted me regardless. I was no longer looking for security, I was looking for love. Yet, in my pursuit I found these people broken by something, refusing to be great out of "humility" or some such concept. Time after time, my soul would not resonate with the people I met, and I often felt that they did not believe in the same god I did.

"We shape our god, and our god shapes us." Rob Bell could not be more right about this. Truly, every experience I have had of god, every spiritual experience has been a resonation with humanity or a realization of some greater reality that I was not conscious of previously.

I am sure conservative Christians would read what I write as "he never believed in god to begin with, we should save him by bringing him to our one true expression of Christianity." I've never been a person to conform to a group, and the more right a group thinks they are, the more questions I ask. The more authoritative a leadership figure is, the less I care about what they are saying. Truly, I have a "rebellious spirit."

This is a good thing. People aren't created to be lead, they exist to be what they are, no matter how scary that is to people that are afraid or lonely. Nothing can stand in the way of the truth.

At some point, one must call a concept what it is. There is no doubt in my mind that two things are true.

1. There is more to humanity than biology, more to life than the surface of what people deal with every day, and there is something that transcends what we as humans know through current science. We must push forward with every aspect of philosophy, every science and every art, to understand more and come up with more questions.

2. In the context of church and political history, scientific discovery, and the nature of the "supernatural" (anything beyond our current understanding), if there is a god, he is nothing like the one in any major religion. This is because we shape our god, and when a lot of people choose to shape god the same way, we end up with a religious movement that, if it lasts, will become an established religion. This is nothing more than a psychological phenomenon combined with our adolescence as a race, and none of it proves a god.

I am, without a doubt, an atheist. I would term myself agnostic as well, because I do not think our race has come to a point of making definitive statements about whether an ultimate deity exists, or even whether there are higher developed life forms which can be considered deities exist.

I also know that I will spend a good portion of my life studying the concept of god and learning more about it, studying humanity and learning more about our race's psychological makeup, and making a combination of the two. Like I said, Christianity has put me on this path, and for that I am grateful.

Christianity has also lead me to the example of Christ, at once a beneficial and a harmful role model. When I was a child, this shaped me a great deal, and I still respect Jesus as an intriguing and beneficial figure, though not necessarily a historical one by any means. However, my idolization of the hero archetype must now become an intrigued study, for I am no longer a child.

I am a man, and my former ways are cast off. How terrifying, and what a great adventure.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


I've been on a wonderful and terrible and entirely necessary journey lately, grappling with my transition away from faith. I've wanted to skip to the end of it for a while, to be at the point where I can say I'm well again, but I have to journey through some very painful and very rewarding territory to get there. I haven't written here for a while because of this, and because life has been insane and awesome and beautiful and exciting lately, and admittedly a little terrifying.

I was raised to fear. One of my most fundamental emotions is that of being afraid, and it's one I have struggled against for my entire life. I've dealt with crippling social anxiety over being afraid of rejection from people, and I've been afraid of failing or, perhaps more commonly, of succeeding. I've been afraid that I will be crushed by those I trust. None of these fears are unwarranted, as the way I grew up contained a lot of very intense experiences involving all of those things. I've even been taught (somehow) that every good thing is a trap that is designed to make you hope, after which it will crush you, and that cynicism is the way to live, with no faith in people, even if they give you every reason to believe in them.

All of this is terrible, and I'm still processing most of it. However, there was one fear I was taught specifically growing up that I have been grappling with for the past few months.

I fear what will happen to me after my death. Ever since I've transitioned to faithlessness, I've had haunting memories resurface of vivid descriptions of hell. There is fire everywhere, unquenchable fire that burns you eternally, and it never stops. There is smoke and sulfur, to the extent that the very air you're breathing is poison, but you are not allowed to die, and you are not allowed to go into shock or lose consciousness to escape your torment. You are separated from God, the ultimate authority/parental/guardian figure and the meaning of life, the only source of security for you, and he does not want you. You did not accept him in your 100 (or so) years of life, so he will leave you in agony for eternity.

The entire notion, I've come to feel for many years, is absurd. The logic I grew up with, "That's what the Bible says," even before losing my faith seemed entirely hollow and meaningless. How could something so implausible be true?

Yet, when you are told something when you are 6-7 years old, these thoughts don't enter your head. All you can think about is how terrible it is, how much you want to be good and you want God to love you, and how you want to live forever in heaven with him and with angels and all good things and where there is no pain. You make decisions based on the fact that you are terrified over something you have just begun to understand, yet it takes over your brain. It inundates you, and you grow up with it. You learn to hate or love or be angry or vengeful or kind and compassionate based on the things you come to believe.

I learned fear, and I learned that most of the human race will be tormented for eternity because of their lack of belief in Christ. How could I trust these people? How could I believe anyone when they don't have a moral center, when they don't have a god to please? Isn't morality simply a toss up if someone doesn't believe in God?

I had emotions, open-mindedness, charity, sexuality, philosophy, science, other cultures, and humanity demonized for me, and I was told that all of my answers lie in a book I tried to read every day and fell asleep doing so. I did not want to go to hell, so I became a fighter against anything that could threaten my and other peoples' faith. I did confrontational evangelism on the streets of Costa Rica as recent as 9 years ago because I thought it was my duty, my way of keeping people from endless torture for eternity.

Eventually, it came to be framed a different way. In recent years, I stopped believing in a literal hell after I studied the Bible and church history and could only find a solid source for this theology in Dante's Divine Comedy and in a very specific and literal reading of what is admitted to be some of the most metaphorical parts of the Bible by all but the strongest literalists.

It stopped being about not burning for eternity, and it started being about being in God's Kingdom. I reframed the horrifying vision I'd been taught growing up with one of eternal glory in God's presence, and began speaking of how God courts humanity and is a gentleman, so he will not force man to choose him. Hell became less about eternal pain and torment and more about man choosing himself over God, and living with the consequences of that choice. For this portrayal, see CS Lewis' "The Great Divorce," a beautifully written myth regarding the heaven/hell reality. Heaven became the only place where anything is real and about people being larger and more, and hell became about people shrinking into themselves and becoming small and petty and never going anywhere.

Like all theology, it's about people.

Sadly, however, this is only a more palatable version of hell. For instead of flames, there is only cold loneliness. Instead of endless conscious suffering, there is eternal emptiness. Instead of God throwing you there, you choose it yourself, whether you realize it or not. In some ways, this version of hell is more horrifying, because it's something you can no longer be angry at God about, and just as terrible.

"But Daniel, is the question not whether it's horrifying or not, but whether it's true?"

Hell is simply inseparable from Christian theology. I've run from this notion for years, and in many ways, I can understand why people get so angry over a book like Rob Bell's "Love Wins." When the doctrine of hell is threatened, the mythology of Christianity loses its' teeth, and fear is no longer a weapon in its' arsenal. Or, to put it another way, what is the point of getting saved if you're being saved from nothing? Does this not make Christ's torture and death meaningless? Meaningless indeed.

I was 7 when I first learned to fear in the name of hell, and even though I no longer consider myself a Christian, the entire notion still chills me at the most basic level. Because even though I haven't believed in hell per se for years, I am now one of the people that preachers ranted about when I was young. I am a secular humanist, someone who believes homosexuals and women and all people regardless of how different they are are equals. I don't believe in the Bible and I understand the evidence for Evolution and the origin of life. I think the entire notion of hell and scaring people into line with it is absurd.

Yet still, there is a fear that takes hold of my heart when I even think about it. What if I am wrong? What if I will burn for eternity because I've allowed philosophy and my lack of Christian morality and my own desire to do what I want to delude me from the truth presented in Scripture?

Scripture, which I don't believe in and is historically the product of a religion that cannot be trusted. Morality, which is demonstrably not from an ancient book and obviously not confined to a single creed, especially considering how bloody and politically cut-throat church history is. Philosophy, which is an inescapable part of life, as natural to humanity as breathing. The entire notion that I will somehow burn in hell is absurd, but fear makes me take it seriously, and it's 27 years of it that I have to somehow come to terms with.

Like I said, this journey has been wonderful and painful and rewarding and entirely necessary. Be who you are, be intelligent, think critically, and have compassion. Do not let fear dictate your choices.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Strength of Greatness, Vis-à-vis Love

How small is a person, and how vast is the truth of our existence, not to mention all of reality itself? We live on a planet that has been around for 4.54 billion years in a universe that is 13.75 (or so) billion years old, with an observable size of approximately 46 billion light years, and it is expanding, possibly into infinity or other universes. We have only begun to comprehend our own reality, our own universe, and it is now theorized that our universe is only one part of reality. We live only a fraction of that time, and even our planet is a tiny, tiny fraction of the totality of our universe, let alone existence.

On this planet, we kill each other over petty things. We speak of men that lived hundreds or thousands of years ago, become angry at others for not aligning with their teachings, and kill each other. We don't get the smallest bit of our small planet when or how we want it, so we kill the people there and take it. We disagree about things like love, a connection with another person that is both inexplicable and beautiful, and kill or do violence to others because of that. We don't like how other people conduct themselves or we quarrel over how to divide the resources of our speck of cosmic dust, so we kill each other, do violence to each other, and make other peoples' lives miserable. The worst part is that we developed this way.

Tribal division is ancient and has its' roots in our subconscious. We want to own things, control things and have power, even if in the vastness of the universe the power and control and wealth we do gain are less than meaningless. We create subgroups and fragment ourselves, compete and kill and alienate ourselves from others, but compared to the vastness of the universe, we are all right next to each other. We are all we have, and we are on the verge of annihilating ourselves from the universe instead of discovering new ways to extend our race's life and influence and meaning.

We have evolved beyond this. It is unstable and unnecessary to get into petty squabbles over stupid things like other peoples' choices (so long as they don't harm others) when we could be encouraging people to find meaning and love and to do great things. We raise our children to hate and be divisive and viciously competitive when we could be  encouraging curiosity, discovery, companionship, and respect. We get angry over mythological theory, territorial conflict, ideological problems, and matters of pride, yet we cannot take the time to understand another person's perspective or to appreciate how diverse and fascinating reality is.

Feelings are a window into who a person is, and every person is their own universe. Every person has a world that can be observed, all flowing from that spark of energy that makes them unique. Whether it is a product of instinct and sentient thought and emergent consciousness or whether it's some higher spiritual form of reality that people exist on as well as what we can easily see, every person is a unique exploration of humanity. All are fragments of light, and the more we learn the more we illuminate the fullness of the experience that is humanity.

People should be loved, because love creates a greater meaning out of the lesser meanings that are individuals. It is a step toward greatness, and it is why that connection between two people that truly love each other is so beautiful. They become greater than the sum of their parts. It is also why that connection can become terrifying or damaging. People can be run over and hurt and damaged very easily when they love, and they must eventually rise back out of the ashes of their pain, which is a very difficult thing to do. So difficult, in fact, that some people remain in the ashes, constantly grieving and living in the past instead of building on it, reaching for the heights of who they are as a person, and regaining the ability to take the risk that is loving.

Humanity is small indeed, but each of us are deeper than an ocean, even if we don't realize it. I choose to be an explorer, and to allow myself to love and be loved, allow for the possibility of pain, and allow for the possibility of greatness, with those individuals I meet who are like me. Anyone can choose this, but they must recognize the necessity of connection and respect being balanced. They must recognize that people are who they are, and they must lose their intentions that take away from that greatness. Power-hunger, pettiness, jealousy, the perceived need to control others, selfishness, lust and greed will only destroy those that go after those things. Live a great life, move beyond yourself.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Bleary and Half-finished, an Intermission and a Beginning

It is not what you do, but who you are that is important, because one's actions flow out of one's heart, out of who one is.

You can only lie to yourself for so long. Eventually, the truth catches up to you, mirrored in the eyes of those you affect, those you love. Even if you think you are the only victim of what you do, others are inevitably affected. There is no action that is meaningless, and there is no real connection with others that is casual, no matter what the pretense may be. There is always something happening, always a meaning.

Humans spend a lot of time looking for connection with others. It is perhaps the one thing beyond our existence that we all have in common. For some, the question is why? Why look for connection when it causes so much pain, so much dissonance and there is just so much risk? Is it better not to trust, not to risk, not to even try connecting?

For some, the question is why not? Why not risk when there is so much to gain? Why not risk, if the reward is that connection one has been looking for? Why hold back, and why stop living?

Sometimes, people need space. And sometimes, when all we want to do is to connect, we have to learn to give that space, to respect others, and to allow them to be without interfering. Respect and trust create a balance, and that balance is unique to each person.

When one lies to themselves, they inevitably lie to others. One cannot speak the truth when their heart is full of lies. One need not complicate matters to understand them for what they are, one need only stare the truth in the face, regardless of the cost.

And yet, when it's all deconstructed, when it all falls down and when we seem to have nothing left, on that ground we can build meaning. We build with our choices, create by deciding, construct by living.

Thought is very powerful. It has an energy that we cannot yet explain. From our sentience comes our wisdom, our consciousness, and even that is far beyond what we understand. How much greater then, is the mystery of why things sometimes happen in ways that make no sense? How much more is there to discover when simple thought can transform any situation, regardless of whether action is taken on it? When thought itself is an action, we must then acknowledge that everything counts, everything has meaning, everything matters. There is so much yet to discover.

More relevant than any other time, even an end has a start. Let us move beyond anger and the pain in the world of one man, and begin again. There is so much more.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Schrodinger's Soul

Sometimes things happen, and we lack the ability to figure out what they actually are until later. Circumstances come about, things change, and we later call it the beginning of something we couldn't know existed until we look at it in retrospect.

A relationship between two people falls apart, but you don't really know until that one deciding moment that ends it. Yet, in retrospect, it was all over weeks or months prior, you simply did not have the data to know that it was. Or, to be more specific, their intention was not actualized into any sort of reality because of their indecision or their inability to say what is really happening. Or perhaps, your decision was not actualized, and you simply don't know where you are, sometimes frustrating that other person to no end.

A person loses their ability to affiliate themselves with organizations of a faith, but they hold onto that faith for a long time, until all context is lost, all of the fundamental tenants are broken down by evidence to the contrary, and they end up looking back on their loss of affiliation with the faith as the beginning of the end for it.

That in between place, that state where we are neither one thing or another, neither loved nor rejected, neither faithful or wayward, neither positive or negative. We just are in between, in stasis, and probably confused about something.

It is such a natural place for humanity. We do not know everything there is to know about reality, but we are also not completely and willfully ignorant of it. Supernatural events occur, but some say they are inexplicable, and some say that we simply haven't found the real mechanisms behind those supernatural events. Some even attribute them to anything but faith, even if they have to make an educated guess about a person's psychology or their circumstances or science to do so, because they're realists. Some hold faith in the inexplicable supernatural events long after they are explained, because their faith is that important to them.

We are an in between race, in our adolescence, still learning and trying to stand on our own and figuring out reality. When we discover something, in our lives or about reality itself, we look back and say "oh! that explained so much!" and many who feel that they already have it all figured out can accuse us of inconsistency or confusion, when we are more in

Friday, October 5, 2012

Furious Grief

I once read a book called the Ragamuffin Gospel, by Brennan Manning. He spoke of God's "Furious Love," describing it as a torrential and unstoppable force that one cannot resist, except to choose not to feel it at all.

Sometimes, we have to hurt, we have to let ourselves feel the wounds of the past and we have to allow people to affect us to even term what we're doing living. Yes, we may lose for a while. No, it will not feel good, and it will not be like the movies or shows or books you grew up being inspired by. But it's the only way to move forward.

When you're affected by something serious, it's tempting to close up, to stop engaging those around you and stop dealing with how you feel. It's less dramatic to allow your heart to turn to ice and just have fun, in an apathetic manner. I've tried it, and it was enjoyable. And then life caught up with me, and I found that my heart had silently drifted into the blackness of death, simply because I had stopped living.

I'll not reiterate the notions of my religious crisis here. If you want to know about it, read the post "Faithless." What's important is that I have lost what felt like an old friend in God. I still pray every once in a while that, if he is there, he will show me. Surely, if I have been designed to think and look at evidence and reason and feel and understand, the God that designed me could show up in a real manner? Why does faith have to be a prerequisite to this? I've had faith for years, and I've been nothing but damaged, nothing but hurt, nothing but taken advantage of and nothing but mislead. "Sin" is no excuse for the fact that I can count on one hand the trustworthy people I have met that still associate themselves with the faith of my past. So if I can't trust people, where is God? Is he so powerless that he can only reveal himself in circumstances that could be attributed to dozens of other things? Does he care more about testing my faith than about me? Or is he, as I'm suspecting, not there at all? The more I figure out about what we have discovered as a race, the less likely it seems that there is a god, especially not one like the Christian God. This is cause for grief, for I've spent 20 years trying to understand something that is apparently nonexistent. It hurts, and it's lonely.

I don't understand "Furious Love" beyond conceptually, but I do understand the pain this period of my life has left me with. I understand the grieving furious anger of having to look at years and years of faith and religious fervor that have affected friendships, romantic relationships, education, family, life choices, intellectual integrity, philosophy, sociology, psychology, emotional makeup, mental capacity, and my very being, and having to reframe all of it, reprocess all of it, and try to figure out what to do next. The only comfort I have is knowing that I am extraordinary for enduring so much dissonance and remaining sane.

I want to just say that Christians have hurt me, and that's because people will hurt me. I want to say that I know God and have a personal relationship with him, and I want to have the faith I used to have. I want it to remain in my heart. However, I want to know the truth more. I want to know what reality is, even if it's the blackest and most meaningless explanation ever, or even, shockingly, if it turns out God is actually there and I've just been angry and hurt. I don't care which one. Some may call me optimistic or even idealistic, but I think there's more to reality than merely what we can measure. Supernatural events happen every day, and the more we learn, the more of them we understand. Spirituality is connection, and there is, without a doubt, more to reality than we can sense with our limited perception of matter and energy. Even the emergent property of consciousness currently eludes us, and that's one of the simplest things about us as sentient beings. There is more.

I've been abused by women that did not even know that they were abusing me. They would take advantage of my kindness, allow me to help them and give nothing in return, and use their knowledge of who I am like a knife, stabbing and twisting. Manipulation is commonplace among those I've trusted, and I trust easily because I want someone that has the quality my close friends have--that honorable quality of love, of looking out for me and taking care of me as I do for them, of family. I have trusted too easily, and I have been broken for doing it. It is so entirely frustrating to know you want to find someone that can love you, and only find people that don't understand what that even means. When I confront them with what they did to me, some have cast the blame right back at me, because I volunteered to help them, I choose to try to fix them, because that's what I love doing. I love listening, I love helping people find serenity, I love bringing peace and healing to others. And now, I am choosing to bring it to myself. I can no longer allow people in that will not take care of me, regardless of what they may need or want. I am too hurt, I have been too damaged, and I have been used up. I am tired of it. I am done with it. It cannot stand, and I will not do it anymore. I grieve for this part of my past, the part that's allowed too much, that's assumed too much and tried to fix people instead of letting them be who they are, and has been left behind, discarded after those I've pursued no longer needed or wanted me, or worse, needed me for entirely too much, without the ability to even stand with me as an equal. It hurts, and I will not do it anymore. Some have apologized, and for that I am grateful.

Don't take it personally. These things happen, and I've learned to stand instead of lean on another. You should too.

I have friends that feel betrayed by my recent decisions. They don't understand, they think I'm making a stupid decision, and they worry for my soul. It is their decision what they wish to do, but I'd hate for any friendships to be lost just because I've moved to another stage of life. It hurts to lose people, especially without explanation, but sometimes these things happen. For this, I grieve as well.

I am not bitching and moaning about my life. This grief is beautiful, and it is my burning anger for now. If there's one thing I've learned to use, it is that rage that drives me to change, drives me to be better and to look the past square in the face, call it what it is, allow myself to process and feel what it is, and move on to be a better person.

Do not be afraid to grieve. Do not be afraid to be angry. Do not be afraid to live.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pain, Trust and Honor

Every action taken has a meaning. No action and no word is isolated, in a vacuum, pointless.

Some people assert the supernatural sounding notion that we are all connected, that there is something beyond us being mere matter, mere creatures acting on instinct and doing what we want to survive. Do humans have souls? Perhaps.

Two people can look at each other and have an entire conversation without saying a word. Some can look at people and know precisely what they are going to do and how they react to situations. Friends can remain friends no matter the distance, no matter the circumstances, while some people can live close to each other and never speak again for seemingly no reason. Some people click, some people don't. Some people click for a time and fall out of contact, and some people refuse to let that happen, constructing a friendship where there was no natural connection. Sometimes one's heart breaks due to the inaction, the apathy of others, and sometimes actions are useless, irrelevant and an annoyance at best. Silence can be valuable.

We all have this complex emotional makeup, and we all value different things. Sometimes our apathy is another person's passion, and sometimes we take on the passions of others, learn them as if they were our own. There are no rules, some say, while some say that social interaction must be tightly controlled to avoid pain.

Why do we avoid this pain? From a biological standpoint, it hurts our chances of propagating our genetic code, of reproducing. So humans adapt, they make pain into something beneficial, since there is no avoiding it. Blackness becomes the basis for an elaborate construction of a personality, a structure of personhood that has a way of acting, thinking, and believing.

Every action has meaning because it tells you how that person deals with reality. Perhaps they spend their time escaping reality, or perhaps they construct beliefs based on it and have learned to act in accordance with what tends to happen. Sometimes, people even know that they are detached from reality, and they don't care because it gives them a sense of well-being. Hope, if you will. Some hope is based on reality, and some is based on fantasy. Some hope poisons the hearts of those that hold it, for their construction of reality is warped, sick, and broken, even if they can't possibly know why. Sometimes trust is twisted and becomes a knife that stabs someone in the heart, and sometimes things turn out more perfect than we can possibly imagine, usually because we've been taught not to hope.

Regardless, there is something between people. More than words, more than actions, there is connection. There is trust. Trust can be as simple as choosing to believe that someone won't knock your chair out from under you and as complex as giving of yourself, knowing they will be there for you.

What level of trust is between people is not relevant, valuing it and choosing to act on it is. How does one act with honor? Their choices show integrity and value of the way things are. Their actions are measured and fair. Their words are carefully chosen and true. They care about reality, they are aware of what happens between people, and they choose to act with courage, valor, and their best estimation of what is right instead of manipulating, opportunistically taking what they want, and taking advantage.

I choose to value this for the simple reason that humanity can be more still than it already is because of it. We may have started out avoiding pain, but it can teach us if we pay attention.

Friday, September 21, 2012


From oblivion comes energy, and from energy, life. Life then advanced, ever so slowly, into consciousness, and was bursting at the seams from its' biological origins.

From the realization of consciousness, life began to ask questions. Why does it exist? What is the purpose of being? What is good? How did existence come to be?

The answers took on many forms. Some were so in awe of beauty and mystery that they asserted things based on pure intuition, and some could not stop asking questions and discovering, asserting things based on logic. Obviously, these two blended often, for somehow life had attained from instincts that intuition, and from observation that logic.

And so, from oblivion came the fragments of humanity, and they began to explore. Sometimes they killed each other, diminishing their ability to explore, and returned to mere energy on the ball of life they had come to live and die on. Sometimes they came together and produced more life, and experienced the mystery of love with another fragment of humanity, becoming more than they are alone for that time. Sometimes they created images to be heard, sounds to be seen, words to be felt. Sometimes they destroyed the things and fragments dearest to them because they believed in something.

Regardless, oblivion surrounded this life. Not threatening, not dark, not evil. Merely there. Man constructs to escape it, and many lead good and happy lives because of this. Because we create our meaning.

Some lose hope, and in purest consciousness, they see the oblivion before them, in them, and all around. They drown in it, become part of the truth of existence, and become one with despair. In their despair, they find that they need something. Some kind of meaning, constructed or not, in order to be happy. This is entirely necessary, and some say that this necessity points back to hope being a part of existence.

If this is correct, then oblivion is not all there is. However, when has desire ever made a thing true? Perhaps some assert that the hope precedes desire, and is the reason it even exists. That is, we construct meaning because there is a greater meaning to existence. Though there is no proof either way, one thing is certain: the simplest explanation is that life has no greater meaning than existing, and we are fortunate to have such creative energy for the time that we have given to us.

One can hope that greater meaning exists, that maybe some religion, some philosophy, some artform's pointing to it are proof that there is something more. It is deeply and truly fortunate for those that can hold this hope in their hearts. Regardless of whether they are right or wrong, they have something greater to live for. Their construction, in and of itself, makes them shine beyond what their base nature is. That is, they are not a machine of logic, needing no one, they are more and greater. The unfortunate side effect of this, of course, could be termed fanaticism, delusion, or faith. The reason this is unfortunate is because this often leads to the diminishment of humanity, when construction is so much better.

Some, however, merely do not want to be alone. They have had their fill of oblivion, and they construct in the hope that it will bring happiness in the simplest sense to others. For these people, all that religion, philosophy and art mean are reflections of the person that create them. Their frontier is others, and every experience is savored, every day full of adventure in the simplest sense.

It is fascinating, what oblivion makes humanity do. Fascinating and, at times, terrifying.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Steel clashed upon steel. A masked figure was thrown to the ground with savage force by a taller, armored figure. As the masked figure backed off slowly, blades in hand, she saw the darkness spread around the feet of her attacker.

"My dear..." came her faint and weary battlecry, but she moved forward with unstoppable force, her golden blade cutting through the air.

A roar echoed through the forest. As the massive sword of the attacker came down again and again, all the masked figure could do was dodge and weave, left and right. Her attacker was truly unmatched, a fact that she knew because she had sparred with him many times. She had to use all of her skills just to keep away from attack after attack. Flipping, dodging, lightly deflecting the massive blade until finally she was caught off guard.

Trees exploded as the masked woman flew through them, and she crashed to the ground, her mask shattered, a deep cut down her left cheek. Looking up in the direction of her attacker, she saw the darkness gather around him. Horrific sounds of pain, misery and anger seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere at once. The woman put her face to the ground, her face stinging with the open wound, and covered herself with her arms and robe. It was all she had time for.

An explosion echoed through the air, and the ground seemed to be disrupted under her prone form, sending it flying. This time, however, she was prepared. Snatching a branch of one of the trees, she rotated around it once and came to a stop standing on the branch, perfectly balanced. She looked down at her opponent. He looked up at her with a menacing yet animalistic air.

The woman took the three seconds offered her to plan.


She steeled herself. This was unavoidable. He was gone. There was nothing left of him in the armored suit that was now gathering energy in its' legs to launch itself at her, squatting down slowly, sword brandished in both hands. Her heart could not bear it. She had plunged her blades into the hearts of countless men, countless gods, but this time she could not win.


She flicked her right wrist, causing her silver dagger to move under her arm and partially conceal in the sleeve of her robe. The wind seemed to die as it was all moved toward the feet of the woman's attacker as he prepared to strike with his ultimate technique. Something unblockable to all. Almost all, anyway. She closed her eyes in a blink, and pictured it all again. The day they met, the day they both came to follow the divine cause, the day they discovered the darkness. The horrible, horrible darkness that had claimed his soul and hers' by proxy. They were gods, how could this happen?


The attacker launched into the air with blinding speed, somersaulting toward the tree she stood on with her eyes closed and finally peaked in mid-air, blade behind his back and letting out a massive roar that shook the forest, the trees, and all but the woman, who stood placidly on the tree, tears down her face but otherwise perfectly still. He had never seen what she was about to do, because she knew it was the only way should something go wrong. He must not be allowed to continue, though she could not kill him. It was impossible. She moved both blades in front of her at this point, preparing the obvious block to this move. Her time was up. Her eyes opened and there was nothing left of sentiment, only cold steel.


The attacker pointed his blade straight at the woman and suddenly seemed to propel forward with unimaginable speed. Both hands on his blade, he twirled it in his hands, effectively creating a drill. This was why he was said to be unmatched. No one knew how this was even possible.

Time seemed to stop, and the woman acted. She seemed to vanish and reappear to the attacker's left. She buried her dagger in the attackers left arm and left it there, and then began to cut furiously with her golden sword. The attacker let out a horrific scream and fell to the ground, the woman landing next to him lightly.

Looking down at the creature before her in horrific pain, she spoke to what was once her dearest knight. "You were unmatched, and now you are blackened and maimed. You cannot hurt anyone anymore, but I cannot kill you."

The creature squirmed on the ground, the silver dagger darkened by the infernal energy coursing through him eventually falling out. The woman picked it up. "How fitting," she simply said, and re-sheathed it and her golden sword. She looked down at the attacker once more.

"If you have left any of your mind, then understand this. You will die, but not by my hand directly. Your left arm is now useless, and the darkness that has given you power will never allow it to heal. I, too, will never heal my dear, because I..."

The creature roared and attempted to stand itself up, but it was incredibly weak. His power was regenerating quickly however, and she would be no match for his renewed assault. Cursing her heart, she waved her hand over her face, mending and replacing her mask, and turned and walked away, muttering a few words in farewell.

"When you blacken, I do as well. Farewell, my dear knight."

Sunday, September 9, 2012


My friends, I feel that I have left a part of myself in my past, to be remembered fondly but to be a part of me no more. It is here that I shall attempt to articulate what that means, perhaps in what may be a surprising manner to some. As always, I write to respectfully cause cognitive dissonance in myself and others, so please take any harsh language in such a context, and please disagree with me or come to me personally if you are concerned.

To those close to me that did not see this coming: I'm sorry. I do not mean to cause you any sort of surprise or distress, and I want to talk about this if you are those things. Please accept that some things go better in writing than they do in spoken words for me, and that this could no longer stay inside, bottled up, without making me burst from the pressure. I must be who I am. I know you understand.

It is not often that I use media to make a point on this blog. I, in fact, try to avoid it whenever possible. It is precisely because of this trend that I beg your indulgence today. I will attempt to describe what I need to, but the visuals and music in this video make it much simpler.

If that doesn't load very well for you or you didn't feel like watching it, here is how I must describe things.

I was alone in the desert, left behind, and I was offered a reprieve from my loneliness. All I had to do was truly embrace the life of faith. The price for that was my hope, dreams, and intellect. I fought hard against this price for a very long time.

"Hope is truly found in this life," said I, "just look at the cool glass of water that's been poured for me! I shall never go thirsty for the hope of a bright future." And yet, what kind of a future was I offered? There was the promise that all things would be reconciled, that the ideal of a world without war would exist, but those of faith differ wildly on such things, and church history is replete with war, ostracization, and excommunication. How could these things possibly add up to the kind of Love that Bell wrote about in "Love Wins" or Manning wrote about in "The Ragamuffin Gospel"? That furious love, that unstoppable grace that even the traditional conception of hell could not stand against. And yet, I was told, hell does exist, enemies do exist, and the hope I was offered came with a vs them. Or perhaps more trying to save them. Why then, have I never felt a need to save anyone? Why have I never met a "them"? All of the hope I found was found in people, and eventually in myself. The hope I was offered was nihilism wrapped up in theism.

I dreamed of being something special. In fact, I was told I would be so from a very young age. I was told I would change the world, that I would be one of the people that made faith sensical and rational and compassionate. Why does it need to be made these things if God's work was complete? The answer, of course, was that we are in process. "Dreams," I said, "are sourced from God, for from Him all good things come." So I kept looking up, kept looking outward, kept exploring. What I've found is a universe where life is not static, but dynamic. Love is not a binary, but a journey. Our race is not the center of the universe, but a part of it that we create the meaning of. More and more evidence mounts every day that life on this planet is expressed in many forms rather than species after their own kind, and that active respect is necessary for all of it if we as a race are to even survive. I was never taught this, and so it seems odd to even say. My dreams of being some kind of religious revolutionary began to seem extremely small compared to what the universe is and what humanity is in it. From this, I realized that I am special, and I am so because I choose to be who I am, every day.

My intellect, or perhaps my thoughts, have been what's guided me through so much in life. Every situation thoughtfully analyzed, every concept making sense, and every experience noted. "True philosophy," I said, "comes about naturally from the correct presuppositions and correct ways of thinking. If God is the source of this, then it is ordered in an understandable way, and it is how to understand the mind of God." So I continued to read, I continued to theorize and understand, and I have only begun to see the way logic runs in circles, presuppositions seem to come out of thin air and are deconstructed just as easily, and philosophies are like waves in the ocean. Why does one wave matter when you have the entirety of the ocean to see? Enjoy that wave, ride it or go through it, and move forward. You may be going through it while another person is riding it, but your positions will be switched around before you know it, when the next wave comes. It can't be taken so seriously that you can't play at points or enjoy yourself.

So it all began to feel wrong. If faith truly was a reprieve from loneliness, then why was I living like a reject in darkness, and why were my pursuits so adamantly rejected by most of those I spoke with? Even the "Christian philosophers" I spoke to seemed to disagree with and reject me when it was needed. The agenda began to become apparent to me, and I began to change as a result.

"Just go back to sleep," they said, as the rag was placed over my mouth. The abuse was real, as I was silenced in every way possible, and I felt that it was warranted. Truly, my mind was bent and my heart was twisted in such a real sense that I am still recovering from it. "I deserve this," said I, "for I have failed. I am human, and I just don't understand something." However, the haunting truth was that I really believed that they were the ones that were wrong, and that their religion was not representative of my own faith, despite the realization I would only come to later that what they represented was so connected to what I did that a true revolution was impossible. The presuppositions were too rigid. This is why those in religions that are out to cause real change are always referred to as "radical," meaning back to the roots, or "reforming," similarly meaning returning to the true nature of that religion.

Some say that a sufficiently disciplined mind can compartmentalize contradictory pieces of information. I believed, truly, that I was correct because I was called to be special by God, and that I was also worthless, useless, and alone. For some reason, these things went together into a martyrdom I can only describe as capture-bonding. This is more well-known as Stockholm Syndrome.

What happens when a person endures this for long enough? They break. They either become a complete shell of who they were, accepting the continual abuse of their soul placidly, or they develop a problem with the authority so casually invading their very person, and they decide they've had enough. My study of church history took this to a whole new level, as I realized that Christianity, the faith I was raised to believe in, came about from some incredibly violent historical circumstances, and that this abuse of people had been taking place since the very beginning. My study of the hero archetype of Jesus was the last piece of this puzzle, and it made the claim that the story of Christ was more important than the historical reality of his existence (or non-existence) make a lot of sense. If I may borrow from one of my favorite shows, "all of this has happened before, and it will all happen again." If the story of Christ was not unique, and the story of the church is a power struggle like many others, with the occasional idealistic and great figure emerging to make it about good things, then what is unique to the faith I was raised in, morally, historically, theologically, philosophically, politically, or in any other way?

It all comes down to a question: who do you trust?

Once again, we are back to people. The people I trust are of all different faiths, all different backgrounds, and they are all so uniquely human.

So the last great lie I was sold that I had to reject, "the smile when you tore me apart," was that I am, and am meant to be, alone. I am not meant to be alone. I do not know if God exists or if he does not, but every religious experience I have had so far I can soundly attribute to people. Whether that is authority, friendship, love, public experiences of "worship," or family, I can attribute the things that move my soul to people, and to people alone.

My friends, I must confess that I am tired of imposing loneliness on myself, and I refuse to do it anymore. I love people, and they frustrate me so much sometimes because I believe that we can be better. No one thing can cause this, but I wish to become better by listening, by being open with people, by learning, by arguing, by discussing and philosophizing and enjoying music and art and literature and absurdity and laughter and beauty. I wish to grieve with others, to be a conduit for comfort to the hurt and the downtrodden, and to be a voice of realism to those that feel they must continue to hurt themselves to be acceptable. It is so unnecessary.

I can no longer say I have faith in the supernatural God that I was raised to believe in. What does this make me? I have no idea at the moment, other than to say that I am still the same person I have always been. I am still a critical thinker, I am still absurd and awkward and hilarious, and I am still something of an idealist. I still respect the possibility of a god, but I also deeply respect agnosticism, pantheism, atheism, polytheism, monotheism, and those who don't want to bother with any definition or framework to represent their thoughts. This is because they represent something to the people who believe in them, and that fascinates me.

So faithless I may be, but that does not mean I am different or have lost my ideals. If a god does exist that I will meet one day, it is the person I am that he will see, and judge, if that is even what will happen. However, I choose to live like I have one life, and I wish to make it count in real ways.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Fury, or the Symphony of the Heart

Do not fear your dark impulses. From them come truth and parts of you that you may rather not see.

A relationship with the creator is romance, unadulterated.

The creator destroys those and saves those he or she wishes, according to his or her good pleasure.

Hope poisons the heart of all people, as they realize their trust has been broken.

Who do you trust? How far does that trust go, and what is it you really trust in?

Salvation, murder, rape, destruction, power, money, supernatural, prophecy, heavenly language, inspired poetry, sanctioned commands, dehumanization, the poverty of the soul.

What sort of romance takes the heart and acquires what it wants, as though a human is a piece of property?

What is the distinction between your power and divine power?

What is God's voice, and what is yours'?

Are you a liar? Is lack of ultimate knowledge and the best of intentions leading to mistakes such a sin?

Hope becomes foreign, trust is broken, and the list of those one can rely on grows short.

In a world lost to trust, one learns not to trust.

You only live once, so take everything you can.

You are all you have, so realize all others will step on you, and you will step on them.

Deceive from the start, use faith as a weapon, the supernatural as leverage, gain more power.

For their own good. The lost sheep need to be saved by your wisdom, the wisdom from the master.

Poison them with hope, destroy the corrupt structures and the evil men with them.

Go buy a chicken sandwich.

Bullets destroy the muscles that binds our consciousness to our reality.

Death by repeated lightning fast strikes. Steel through the heart. The music ceases.

The heart stops, the brain ceases its' impulses, all is silent. All one lacks is proper nourishment.

Those claiming divine knowledge have the means but not the will.

Those with the means have not the care, their heart is already dead.

Who do you trust?

Death by deprivation. All gives out, and you cannot fight for air any longer. The music ceases.

The dreamer understands nothing, for his perspective has become a tunnel.

Some starve, some hate, some are destroyed. Some burn, some are torn apart.

Violence of the heart, yet it keeps beating. Alive, and consumed in icy rage.

A parody is all he has left, for his dreams have been trodden on.

Fury is what he feels, for divine love has twisted him inside. He is lost, wishing to be found again.

You took his heart, and left him with embers.

The fire need air, but the lungs have collapsed.

The wind picks up, he lives in a hurricane just to feel again, just to be cleansed from the violation.

One soul among billions. Insignificant, yet a microcosm of his world.

The heart of humanity is dead, and fury must revive it.

The symphony must go on, and there is hell to pay for what we have done.

The violence must cease.

The apathy must cease.

Self-delusion is no longer affordable.

We have killed Him. He lies dead at our feet, and in the dissonance, we must find it all anew.

Humanity must become more than a pipe dream, or we must break the bonds that unite.

The only other option is the continued loss of meaning, the continued death of the heart, the extinction of a beautiful race.

Fire will consume us as we bash our broken instruments over each others' heads, and we will leave a burnt husk of a heart behind.


We will learn, we will respect, we will let it go and allow the furious and beautiful symphony to go on, adding our part to live on.






Something coherent to come soon, barring things becoming more ridiculous.

Friday, July 6, 2012

On Sin, or True Dissonance

I don't even know what to write right now. This may make no sense, but I have some things to process.

How does a person deal with all intellectual structures around them falling out from under them? How do you deal with your reservoir of faith running totally dry? What do you do when all of the answers of spiritualists, mystics, religious figures, and those you've grown up listening to sound like nothing more than abuse? What do you do when you realize you've been psychologically abused for a good portion of your life?

You are worthless. You are a sinful, horrible monster. You are broken. You've missed the mark. Your best intentions are filthy rags. You don't know what you're doing. You're horrible. You suck. You must constantly repent, constantly be sorry, and constantly deny yourself any happiness. You need our answers. We know God, and the only way we can be sure you do is if you gain the same understanding that we deem spiritual. You better not be wrong, though your nature is to be wrong constantly. You must doubt yourself constantly, never have confidence, never be correct, always be self-deprecating. You are a fool, but you mustn't call your neighbor a fool. Your neighbor is anyone else. They must be allowed to run you over constantly, because you are worse than dirt. You deserve to be persecuted. You deserve death. You deserve eternal torment forever. You are worthless. Your sex drive makes you sinful. Your questions make you arrogant. Your humanity makes you useless. Your ideas make you heretical. Your creativity makes you threatening. Your compassion is empty, your grace hollow, your beauty pointless, your mind broken, your heart evil, your soul monstrous. God loves you anyway, because we say so. You should be grateful.

It hurts. Beyond any thoughts, any reason, any movement or investigation or research or experience, I must admit to the fact that I have been abused by those who claim to be in authority. I have never been sexually abused, and I've never been hit in my life. My family is wonderful, and I've had good friends for most periods of my life. But I have learned the mantra of self-hatred, and it is attached to growing up as a Christian. I learned in Christian school that when one is angry at the church, the first question one must ask is "who is it?"

There is no one person. It doesn't matter which theology, which church, which sect, which movement I deal with, this mantra is always a part of it. Even those centered on grace cling to the doctrine of sin. Whether it is phrased that we accept salvation so God does not allow or cause our eternal torture, or that we live in salvation to participate in who God is, and any other way to live is hell, Christians still speak of hell constantly, whenever salvation is spoken of. Because we are so free that we can choose whatever we want, even though God's way is the only real way to live.

The question is...who has articulated God's way correctly? Has the Roman Catholic Church? Has the Protestant Reformation? Has Islam? Has Judaism? Has the Orthodox Church? Has the Pentecostal Church? Has the liberal sections of Christianity? The UMC? The Baptists? The Anglicans? Are there actually multiple gods? Who is God? El? Allah? Jesus? Yahweh? Which way is the correct way?

"We shape our god, and our god shapes us." This is from the only man that has ever portrayed religion to me as anything but abusive. The movement itself, which has emerged from the Postmodern world's religious sentiments, is a complex form of psychology, rooted in the historic orthodox Christian faith. An acknowledgment and apology for the history of religion, and a willingness to be progressive, to move forward, to narrow one's focus to only who Jesus is, reinterpreting the ancient scriptures through that person. Incarnational, compassionate, and focused on a God that simply wants to reunite with humanity. In this framework, sin is us, however it actually happened, losing a relationship with our creator. His desire to reunite with us is what drives his actions. We were made to create as well, and we do it through relationships, art, science, philosophy, religion, history, literature, and culture.

The question much of the historic, orthodox Christian faith is kept in this movement? It is ecumenical in focus, often including other religions. The notion is that God has been after humanity for a while, but we must choose Him as well. Religions are the byproduct of us sensing the spiritual world.

Ancient Christianity is not progressive in nature, and is concerned with continuing the traditions of the religion itself. Church history has been fraught with power struggles, war, death, movements and reformations, and all of the things that we've come to expect of humans through study of history and our nature. The thing is...if empirical science proves something wrong, then religion has no choice but to change it.

So, we are left with two questions. Firstly, given how little we know about the universe and existence, how can we be sure that our scientific conclusions are, in fact, correct? Secondly, how can a God, whose nature is unprovable, exist at all?

1. Science, by its' nature, is a method of progress. The more we study, the more we understand through research and observation, the better science becomes at portraying the universe. That said, the more we study science the more questions we have, and that is the beauty of it. Will we ever understand all of existence? I simply do not know. We constantly revise our picture of reality, and it could be uprooted at its' core by some discoveries. How can we be sure we are correct about anything? This is why philosophy is necessary. We are now progressing into Epistemology and questioning empirical sources.

2. God's every move avoids giving irrefutable proof of his existence. We are given the gift of faith, which is to say, the hope for things unseen. At some point, all of humanity has some sort of faith. Philosophically, these are more accurately termed to be presuppositions. For example, I have faith that what I am looking at and interacting with is, in fact, reality.

However, religious faith, particularly theistic faith, is entirely different. You see, the nature of Jesus is relational, by a matter of course. He is a proof of God's existence, God in flesh, but only if you believe the miracles reported by ancient sources, uncorrelated by any other historical sources outside of the Christian religion. What then? Is this merely an anti-faith bias I am spouting, or is it possible that historians had a religious agenda around the founding of Christianity? Does not every religion believe that it only exists because it is true? Is this not believed by any devout believer of any religion?

So there is a God, who is all powerful and all knowing and compassionate and loves humanity, but there is a marked lack of evidence of such things in our chaotic world. The answer, of course, comes from the fall. We are totally free, we are the ones destroying, and we are the ones that can create and come back to God. In this sense, God is a moral standard. All good things happen because of God, and all evil happens because of humanity, or if you wish, the devil.

We have once again circled around to sin, and its' meaning as us being evil, us being separated from God, and us being uncertain about everything, necessitating faith. The empirical gap presented by science and philosophy and human understanding of the universe is used as an epistemic wedge that drives us toward faith. In this sense, the conflict between science and religion is very true indeed.

So the real question is simple. Is religion worth trusting? At the end of the day, it always seems to come down to that. Religious claims can only be made in ignorance or by trusting in a historic source. Before a movement is a religion, it is simply a spiritual proposition. The problem is, things like hell and judgment cause humans to panic, and do what they can to avoid horrible things. The instinct of self preservation is at work.

I have severe problems trusting authority, and the simple reason is because I am entirely sick of being told, implicitly and explicitly, how horrible of a person I am. The religious would say this is self-centered and arrogant of me, but they must also acknowledge their own self-centered nature by attempting to avoid hell and judgment, and their own arrogance at claiming to know all of the answers.

Religion always boils down to what humanity is saying about the spiritual world. I have no doubt that the spiritual world exists, because of my own experiences with it. There is definitely something more to our existence than being animals that have evolved on a planet in one universe of millions that barely understand reality. However, I must also acknowledge that part of the reason I believe in spirituality and in the idea of God is because there are people I trust and admire that also do. I must also acknowledge that I am not the most objective person right now, and that I have trust issues, systemic of things I probably do not even understand about myself yet.

What I do know is that I love understanding psychology, religion, philosophy, and this thing called spirituality. I believe this is an art, and I will probably spend my life studying and creating in it. For me to do this, I must leave behind this notion that I am inadequate. It has been toxic to me for my entire life, and I am sick of it. Even if the notion of sin is true, I learned when I was very young that sin means I must berate myself, and it has always held me back.

I also know that I cannot sacrifice my intellectual honesty just because I am uncomfortable questioning something that has been part of my identity for a long time. No matter the consequences, I must move forward. I simply have no more faith left to give to this destructive culture I have grown up in. What does this make me? I have absolutely no idea, but it's pretty interesting.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Sometimes, we have to stop and ask ourselves questions. When it comes to my situation, I've had to stop because life is intensely and in my face unfair, frustrating, and dangerous. I've realized I've been angry a lot because I thought I was owed something by life. I thought my prayers, my sincerity, my attempts to do the right thing, and my hard work would bring some kind of reward. Or, at the very least, I would stop struggling so much. The truth is, the more I've struggled, the more I've tried to make sense out of everything, the less I know and the less I feel I can do. In a real sense, I totally understand why people give up. I want to, almost every day.

What's damning about this is my ideals are probably the cause of most of these problems.

I grew up expecting to change the world, to be some kind of visionary and create something new that will change everything. A pretty egotistical way of living, I'd say. "Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off."

I've come to understand that progress only happens when humanity stops being idiotic and thinks for a second, or when a drastic example is put in front of them and forces them out of their apathy. On one hand, this is kind of how people function in our society. On the other hand, it is infuriatingly unfair when we look at people like Nikola Tesla. Someone who was legitimately a genius, but was screwed over by people constantly. This is a man who died alone after making huge contributions to the world, while businessmen and greedy men profited by stealing from him. He also did not care. If you don't know who Tesla is, that's exactly my point. Look him up.

I'm certainly no Tesla, and a lot of people are not. However, it's important to remember that we are owed nothing and indeed, we will be given nothing if we merely work our way forward in a straightforward way. That is a recipe for being stomped on, and I've had more than enough of that. I could descend into a bitchfest about a multitude of things at this point, but that would be pointless.

A better point is also a simple one. I have decided I know nothing. I have more of an education than over 90% of the world, and that's enough to know I have more questions than answers. I still don't know much about the nature of our existence, and I look to scientists and philosophers to understand that better. I've begun to look to practical examples to learn skills to survive in every day life, and I look to spirituality for self-improvement. In all of these areas, I have more questions than answers. Indeed, in the area of my own spirituality, I seem to have nothing but questions anymore.

If we evolved over billions of years from abiogenesis, if our universe is gigantic and we are microscopic and our universe is only one of many, then what significance does one person writing on one blog even have? Indeed, is this a waste of time, or is there something more to my existence than just another sentient life form on a remote planet complaining because he has to deal with other insignificant lifeforms in a mob that run him over every single day (and more ironically, is often part of that mob just to get even)? If there is a god that cares about us that much, where is he when there are millions of people less fortunate than I who die of hunger and thirst? Does he not care? Does he not care about me? Does he not care about the insane amount of people less fortunate than I? If I'm supposed to put myself aside (sick of hearing that shit whenever I have a problem by the way) and go help other people, then is that not just man helping his fellow man? Why is the significance of community about something other than people helping each other?

The big question, of course, is why are we "murdering each other over tribal god images," as Q so aptly put it? Given our advancing understanding of the universe, we are left with more and more disturbing implications and more questions, and the religion I've grown up interacting with has exactly one current public figure that even comes close to interacting with legitimate questions, and with helping those who are actually unfortunate, as opposed to a disillusioned college graduate with some minor emotional problems. That public figure is routinely reviled and harassed by the majority of his own religion. Let that sink in for a moment.

A religion, based on Jesus, who came and turned a persecuted religion that was looking for the messiah on its' head. He said that money and power are pointless, and that there are more important things to life. He was then killed by the predominant religious and political powers of the day. Two millenia later, we're left with a violent church history full of power struggle and bloodshed, and an institution that acts like any other does with money. When does the majority simply overpower the minority? When does the religion itself become illegitimate because the abuse is found to be the natural outcome of the theology itself? Can we really afford to continue to talk about how we live in a fallen world with sinful people, or should we simply accept who we are and get over ourselves and our power structures that will cause our own destruction?

These questions aren't about me, they're simply a product of a mind that can't seem to stop asking questions like these. I can't afford to continue doing business as usual and being the same person I always have been. Not anymore.

If there is one thing I've learned since I've graduated college, it's that those in power are going to abuse those not in power 99% of the time. Out of sight, out of mind. I'm the same way. I want to have so much money that I don't need to put effort into anything anymore. I want to have so much control that I don't have to deal with the uncertainty of life anymore. These are the actions of someone who is afraid, and I am done with it. Life is to be lived now, and all one can do is their best. The ideals I've grown up with no longer function for me, so it's time to start over again, as one knowing nothing.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Death of God

I feel that I am filled to the brim and ready to burst. So, I am writing again. I've always made a conscious effort to be objective, as a moderation to the things I believe, the things I'm passionate about. Perhaps that's because I've always seen passion scare people, or perhaps I wish to always see every side of an issue. Maybe I just don't want to get into more fights over things that I feel should be positive. Regardless, I am passionate about my faith.

It's an extremely conflicting experience to relate to and agree with atheists, but be a theist and a Christian. When I read and hear about people moving from Christianity to atheism, belief in religion to other ways of believing, I am conflicted. I have had to move on from the Christianity I've grown up with as well, though I have never found it necessary or correct to move beyond a belief in God, in the spiritual reality that is connected to our experiences, and the checkered and conflicted history of the Church.

I've written lately about my experiences in Christianity, and currently I feel that all of the things I believe in are most closely represented by the Eastern Orthodox Church. Perhaps I am merely fooling myself, as I've been to one of these churches only once. As most people can tell you, experience often colors the theoretical understanding you have of things in ways you would never expect. I am both afraid of trying a new church and desperately want to be involved in a community that discusses things meaningfully. I do not miss most of my college experience, but what I do miss is the good conversations. The ones that naturally happened as far divorced from the "spiritual formation" efforts the school made to indoctrinate us as possible.

I've watched more and more people move away from Evangelical Christianity, and some people move deeper into it, become more conservative, more entrenched and, I suppose, stronger in what they believe. But strength in what you believe is often overrated, and often goes along with stubbornness, blindness, and lack of compassion. Those things are not necessary to be strong, but the baby often gets thrown out with the bathwater on this matter. Regardless, Evangelical Protestant Christianity will shortly be a memory, and will polarize to the level of fundamentalism. At the same time, a lot of the more "liberal" Protestants I've known have polarized more toward atheism. Sometimes I wonder if I'm polarizing to one side or the other, but I know the truth.

I've always been torn between two extremes. Don't get me wrong: I'm no moderate. If I'm pointedly ask what I believe or think about a subject, I will tell you, and I've never tried to balance extremes. What I have tried to balance is who I am. I will laugh at almost any religious joke a person makes, and I will make fun of my own beliefs. To me, that is a sign of security. Plus those jokes are usually hilarious until they turn awkwardly hateful. Regardless, it is unnecessary for me to defend anything, because the truth will eventually prevail, whatever that may be. The truth is that the church has often stood in the way of the truth it claims to protect. The truth is, religion has often made people blind.

The truth is, it does not have to.

I will tell anyone that I believe Jesus Christ is God. I do not believe in the penal substitutionary atonement, original sin, or the inerrancy of scripture. I am not a traditional Christian in the Western sense of the word, and when people make light of the Christian belief that "God kills God to satisfy God's wrath" and say it's absurd, I can only agree. When they say a book cannot be without error if written by people, I can only agree. My foundation for my beliefs has always been and will always be founded in experience, intuitive understanding, and church history. If the human race lost all memory of the era that the historical Jesus came from, I have no doubt that the God I believe exists would have other creative ways of seeking out humanity. I also have no doubt that our understanding of religion, philosophy, metaphysics, science, and the nature of reality and truth is so entirely small that the ultimate God I believe exists goes over our heads all of the time. There's so much we do not know.

Every single person has a right to disagree with me. I expect no respect for my beliefs, nor do I expect anyone to care that I even have them. I'm not the best person in the world, and I often act selfishly or impulsively. But I do try. I want to make my surroundings better, but I've been blessed and cursed with a critical mind and a great deal of passion for fairness, justice, and the truth. I end up being way too excessive on these things more often than not, and end up as a hypocrite quite often. I am no role model.

However, one thing college taught me is that no one else is, especially not the authority figures that claim to have spiritual truth and maturity figured out. Even those that claim to know the entirety of the truth are guessing, like the rest of us. Perhaps some have more educated guesses than others, and I respect those people, especially the ones that will admit that the more educated they become, the more questions they have.

This is the adventure of life. Know more, discover more, find more truth, and realize just how much more you have to discover.

A lot of people call the world we live in Post-Christian. The more I experience and talk with people, the more I have to agree. Christianity, as the Western world knows it, is dying. The remnant of Western Christianity will be a core group of extremists that preach God's vengeance and anger and will become more embittered by the progress of society, and the world will move on as it always has, leaving them behind. However, there is another group of Christians that are content to quietly believe what they do believe, and recognize that their faith does not represent a comprehensive understanding of reality, only a claim that God loves every soul, and has more planned than we can ever imagine. These are truly two different gods represented, and to react against one is not to react against the other.

As Nietzsche prophetically spoke, God is dead, and we have killed him. The question we must answer is simple. Which god is it that is dead, and was his death necessary?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Decisions and Power: the Intellectual and the Intuitive

I believe what I do about life because I feel that it is true.

Automatically, in the culture I live in, this statement is regarded with suspicion at best. Most people I've talked to are looking for proof, whether it be through sacred texts, historical context, the sciences, or philosophical argumentation. It is important to note, however, that with proof comes a natural imperative on the part of whoever something is proven to.

That is, if I prove to you that my beliefs are true, you have an imperative to agree with me or live in willful ignorance. I say that gravity is true, I drop a box, and use that as evidence that it is true. For you to say it is not true is regarded as stupid. This analogy, however, is interesting for two reasons.

Firstly, when I give evidence of gravity, I am showing you its' effects. Gravity itself is a theory, an explanation for a consistent pull of objects toward the center of our planet. For me to say "no, gravity isn't something I believe in" would not make me fly off into space, because reality is consistent despite our beliefs.

Secondly, to enter into discourse is much more intelligent than to agree or disagree. Perhaps you have a different explanation for why a box falls when it is dropped, or perhaps you wish for the terms to be redefined or you think that on some level, the standard understanding of gravity is flawed.

So either way, when making assertions about reality, you are in a position of power, and if people have other inclinations, then they enter into a power struggle with you. Ideally, if your allegiance is to the truth as opposed to being correct all the time, you are willing to back off if proof is offered otherwise.

The problem, however, is that proof only goes as far as our senses and our knowledge go. This is why our understand of reality continues to evolve as we as a species evolve. Yet still, we cannot explain things like consciousness and miraculous occurrences and a lot about our universe. These things have implications for how we understand all of life.

As incomplete beings, humans fill in the blanks where proof is lacking with their own experiences and personality. This is natural, and can lead to beneficial and detrimental consequences. One's culture, experiences, emotions, flaws and places they excel are all a part of this, as is one's biology and family.

In a way, philosophy is just as much about one's intellect as it is about one's experience and feeling. If a person doesn't understand themselves or the source of their feelings, then their philosophy may be filled with all sorts of unwarranted cynicism, reductionism, or it might be full of empty ideals.

In the same way, if people understand very little, then their philosophy will be full of inaccuracy and assumption. Ego makes this worse.

So you end up with people making absurd factual declarations or becoming anti-intellectual, and people choosing to ignore any aspect of life that isn't analytical. The problem is, since every person is human, they are a fusion, on some level, of these aspects of life.

Whether intuition and feelings are products of brain chemistry and instinct or an indication of higher reality (or both), they exist and have to be dealt with. Whether the universe is a naturally occurring phenomenon or a created existence, it exists and has to be dealt with. On a practical level, this means that we feel and we think. To ignore one is to ignore part of what it means to be human.

I find Christianity to align with something I feel to be true about reality. That is, that the best way is one of reconciliation, respect, love, and value of everything around me. Obviously, I have to sort through a hell of a lot of baggage to even make that statement in the first place, because Christianity means so many things that its' definition has begun to break down. I also believe that part of being a Christian is listening to the beliefs of everyone around you with respect, and allowing for the possibility of being wrong. If someone says my religion is a moral failure or some tenants of it (such as the existence of God) are wrong, I need to take that seriously and look at those things. I believe I do this well.

However, I must also always look at the evidence around me as well. This is why, once I began to really question things, I realized that a lot of the talk about scientific theories like evolution and abiogenesis at my religious schools was not founded in reality. One must always pay attention when reality interrupts your religious thoughts, and one must always investigate deeply before throwing out something you feel is true.

Sometimes a feeling is a product of a simple emotion and can be valued as such without needing to blindly believe religious tenants. Sometimes a fact is a product of simple observation and can be valued as such without needing to blindly accept it without a full explanation.

Both of these things have been and will be used to hold power over others. I encourage you, never settle for this. Investigate for yourself, think and feel for yourself, listen to others and really consider what they say, and make your own decisions.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Morality of Atheism and Theism: Science, Religion, and Progress

Some say the universe came into existence through a rapid expansion, a "Big Bang." Some say that it began with a single Word from God, in creativity and joy. Some say it began with a conflict between multiple gods, through war and strife. Some say the universe has always existed and perpetually will exist.

The origin and nature of humanity has been attributed to many thing as well. The prevailing scientific theory is one of Abiogenesis and Evolution, life arising from inorganic matter and continuously evolving. The religious would say that humanity was created spontaneously by God and is a spiritual as well as physical being. Others would say that we are spirits and all of the physical world is incidental, that we are spirits inhabiting physical bodies, awaiting freedom at death. To be absent from the body is to be present with God. Some make no claims about the origin of man, stating that they simply do not know.

In general, people are theistic or they are atheistic. There are gods or a single God, or there are no gods. A god is usually defined as a being that is above humanity, or as the greatest possible being. Supernatural, with power beyond what humans have, and usually immortal or possessing an ascension beyond death and usually the laws of the physical world. Many cultures have had conceptions of gods, and the Abrahamic religions are the major monotheistic ones (Islam, Judaism, Christianity). Christianity is peculiar in that it, for the most part, includes the doctrine of the Trinity, that God exists in three person, who are united in one essence. This is commonly subject to the accusation of being polytheistic by the other Abrahamic religions.

The only reason I don't speak about polytheistic religions is because I don't know them as well. I would like to remedy that through study of various theology, culture, and mythology, as I think they're very interesting. However, for now I speak of monotheistic religion.

Religion has evolved over the years, and some link it with the continued voice of ignorance and lack of progress. Unfortunately, this is often correct. The most frequent disparity is between the voice of science and the voice of religion. Indeed, you can probably see this in what I've written about so far. Scientific theories stand apart from religious theories regarding creation, the origin and nature of man, and the nature of the universe as prevalently atheistic. This is because the existence of gods have not been evidentially proven. The reason for this is because science is by nature materialistic and empirical. That is, it is about what can be observed and proven through testing and the scientific method.

I think it is fascinating that a type of morality has grown around the scientific method in our culture. Combined with the abuses that are easily observable from the major religions, science has become more than just a method; it's become an epistemological stance. Citing my own religious orientation as a reference, one need only read my past month of posts to note that Christianity, as I and many others have experienced it, is abusive, manipulative, destructive, and ignorant. Much of this can be traced back to theological beliefs, as practice naturally flows out of belief. You may believe that sexism and racism is contrary to your beliefs, but if you hold them dear and find yourself being sexist and racist more often than not, then it's possibly you are incorrect. The problem, of course, comes from the fact that your beliefs are inherently unique and informed by your experiences. This is the problem of speaking about religion: no two religious individuals are precisely the same in belief.

Regardless, the moral stance of the religious often flows from commands of their deity or from implications within religious writings. The morality that seems to be developing from the movement around the scientific method is an allegiance to the truth. Which of these is a higher morality? If a deity does exist, then are they not the same thing? It is comforting to think that a being with higher morality can direct our paths, because we often don't have a clue what's going on in our lives. Or perhaps that's just me.

In any case, the natural conclusion is that our actions matter. The epistemic stance of the culture of science is that we must always progress, the method leads us forward into truth and enlightenment, and that there is no evidence thus far of anything higher evolved than man. Humanism is what we are now speaking about, because you must believe yourself to be capable of finding the truth and with a moral responsibility to move in that direction. Evidence based epistemology is admirable for its' allegiance to the truth, but it makes several assumptions. Namely, humanity is nearly god-like in humanism. No, I'm not saying humanists are egotistical maniacs. I'm saying that humanity is able to see the simple truth and that reductionism is a natural extension of that, that nothing emerges from the evidence that is beyond our comprehension, because there is nothing else. The problem with this is that if there is more than what we can prove, then the system is merely progressive and can not lend itself to claims about things beyond its' method.

In other words, the theory of evolution is a most excellent theory regarding the origin of man. However, to then move into extreme atheism from this point does not follow, as one has not scientifically tested the universe in its' entirety (whether we're speaking of the vastness or the amount of things we have yet to understand), and a negative is not a provable premise without a comprehensive knowledge. In other words, God has not been proven to exist, but that does not mean He does not exist.

That also does not mean He does exist. It is simply not provable at this time. This is why I respect atheism as a stance. It lends itself to honesty and to asking questions, which religion often does not comply with.

The simple fact is, the term atheist simply refers to one belief. There is no God. It is not faith, it is the inverse. There is no evidence, so there is no God. Theism is the opposite (obviously). There is no evidence, therefore God transcends our evidence. Both, however, are beliefs.

This is why the divide between the atheist and the theist has lost a lot of its' meaning. There are philosophical implications of both beliefs, but they are both presuppositions. To judge a presupposition, one must ask themselves what the implications are and whether or not it is true, or compliant with reality as we know it. We must, in a sense, use epistemic, scientific, and intuitive methods for measuring our presuppositions, as none are adequate on their own.

This leads to a whole litany of questions. If there is a God, then where is He? Why is there evil if a being is powerful enough to prevent it? Why is there anything good at all if this God is evil? If there is no God, how do we explain the spiritual aspect of our lives? Are we merely evolving to a higher state of being? Is something more emerging from humanity, or has it been there all along, as the existence of religions would imply? What's the point of what I do? How can what I do not matter if it affects others and the universe?

We're all trying to understand and find meaning, but some have stopped and they think this is all there is. Their religion/stance/culture/morality is the endpoint, and they become militant while others are still asking questions, still trying to understand, still learning.

Where do I stand between science and religion? I answer yes to this question. They address two different things, evidence and intuition. The material reality and the spiritual reality. They are not so different, and they bleed over into each other. Why else would we have stories, and why else would I and those like me, as young children, go outside and look at the stars and wonder what else is out there?

I asked in my previous post why it matters what I believe and what I think. In a sense, I am merely a small being theorizing on a random blog with a few readers that hopefully benefit by cognitive dissonance. In another sense, I'm asking questions that my race is asking in its' global culture. We cannot escape from the morality and the implications of our actions and beliefs, and as a Christian, I once again come back around to saying that I'm sorry. I'm sorry for what my religion has done, for the ignorance it has promoted, for the harm it has done. What is important is to move forward from that, progress, and do better. That is the nature of repentance, and it's what I and those like me strive for. This goes beyond religion to being a person open to truth, being an explorer, and giving respect to what is around you and demanding that respect in return.