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Sorry

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I know it’s been a while since I’ve last written.  I do plan on getting back into the habit but life has been a bit hectic lately.  I’m back on my anti-depressant which helps with the day to day however one unfortunate side effect of that is it calms the angry narrator in my head that needs to yell at the world.  It’s easier to be apathetic to things.  It’s easier to say “well it is what it is” and move on.  I’m hoping to be back in the full swing next week as well as going forward.

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Deeper Story Pt. 2

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If you haven’t read it yet here’s Part 1.

I still remember my dad “asking” my brother and me if we wanted to check out his girlfriend’s church.  Whenever he asked us a question like this it was never really meant to be evaluated by us.  We knew what the answer was to be, yes.  But even so I was kind of excited to check it out.  They told me it would be different than the church I used to go to, so I figured it couldn’t be any worse.  I did however find it a little odd that someone would go to church every single week…why?

So Sunday rolls around and we all pack in the car and drive the  half hour to a pizza place…wait what? Dad parked the car…on the street and I’m thinking to myself, “so this church is in a pizza place and doesn’t have a parking this is a joke right?”  As it turns out that the church was ABOVE the pizza place…still weird.  We got to the top of the stairs and looked around.  This was indeed very different from the Catholic church I had attended twice a year before.  There were no pews, just rows of what looked like fairly comfortable chairs.  The room was much smaller than I thought it would be.  The rooms was the size of  a gas station mini-mart instead of the size of a small mall.

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The big thing that was different, and the thing that got me hooked, was that there was a band.  Not like a group of people and an organ but like a real band.  Electric guitar, bass, keyboard, drums, a real real band.  I wouldn’t have thought that a church had something so cool!  We grabbed our little programs and my future stepmother and current father were chatting with friends as I stood there awkwardly.  We eventually took our seats and the music started.  As engaged as I was with the idea of it the actual production of it drew me in closer.

The words we on an overhead projector so it was easy to follow along.  I decided at that moment that, that was something I wanted to do.  I wanted to be someone on that stage playing and singing.  I didn’t know how to play anything other than the recorder I learned in second grade.  Nor could I sing…like at all…it was bad.  But I knew that’s what I wanted more than anything else (in my pre-teen mind).

That’s how I got hooked.  Next week I’ll talk about where that lead me.

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Deeper Story Pt.1

onceSo I’ve given a brief synopsis of my journey from Christianity to Atheism but I thought I’d give a deeper look into how my worldview has changed through out my life.

I was born in upstate New York.  It’s recently been dubbed the safest place to live from natural disasters so we got that going for us…I guess.  About five years later my brother was born.  I don’t remember much about life prior to my parents divorce.  I remember my dad going to fight in the first American intervention into Iraq.  He was gone about six months.  There were a lot of days spent in front of the TV to see if he would be in the line of fire…he was, a lot.  I remember not knowing what any of that meant but I knew that it was worrying for my mom.  When he came home I didn’t recognize him.  He had grown a mustache.  Being a father now I can’t imagine how that must have felt to him.  His own son not knowing who he is.

It wasn’t long after that my parents separated and eventually got divorced.  I had no say in who I would be living with.  My parents thought “Boys should be with their dad.”  I thought that was bullshit.  Even at the age of 12 I knew my dad was an asshole and I wanted to live with my mom.  My dad was definitely a military man.  “Boys don’t cry” “Man up” were just a few of the phrases that were commonly thrown around in my home.    Being an emotional child this was difficult.  I dealt with this by learning to stuff every emotion I had as far down as I could.  It’s unfortunately a trait I’ve kept along with me well into my adulthood.

As you’ve may have noticed that until this point I’ve not talked at all about religion.  That didn’t come into play until the second act of my story.  Church for me until now had been reserved for twice a year, Easter and Christmas.  My future stepmother would be the catalyst to my indoctrination.  Which I will save for the next post.

Continue to Part 2

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Meaning

I remember as a Christian being told that “god has a meaning for your life”.  During my de-conversion I worried that life suddenly has no meaning.  If I wasn’t meant to serve the invisible sky daddy any more so I can have eternal bliss what was the point?  This sent me into quiet a bit of depression.  One of the many reasons I sought help.  I also began to read a lot of responses online regarding this.  The main thing I came to was that my life has the meaning I ascribe to it.  My life is important because it’s important to me and those who care about me.

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This premise was hard for me to swallow.  If you’ve ever suffered from depression you know that it can be hard to find yourself important to yourself let alone anyone else’s eyes.  So again I found my self struggling with a deeper depression.  I guess when I was a believer I always thought of my sky daddy caring about me even if no one else did.  That gave me some comfort.  Not having that security blanket anymore I felt exposed.  I say that in the past tense not because the feeling is gone but more as a fading feeling.

As far as what meaning I’ve ascribed to my life so far, well so far I have a very minimal description.  Provide a life of relative comfort for myself and my family, continue to expand my mind through learning, and spreading my thoughts.  I guess in a way that last one will make me somewhat immortal.  Sure only a handful of people will ever read this but these thoughts will live forever in the “mind” of the internet.

I’m still working through my depression and probably will for a long while.  But I’m actually working on it instead of “giving it to god” which is a phrase I never understood.  What are your thoughts on meaning for life?  How do you ascribe meaning to your life?

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Raising kids as an Atheist

This is relatively new territory for me.  I suppose a bit of background might be in order for context.  In the early days of my youth my family was one of those Christmas and Easter Catholics.  Religion didn’t become a big part of our life until my parents divorced and my dad married my now stepmother.  She went to a church that was very different from what I had experienced.  This was when I was about 12 or so.  From that point I had the notion that church = good and no church = bad.  We became a “good christian” family after that.

I was then raised to be a Christian after that and all that comes with it.  Feeling guilty for thought crimes at the age of 17 is a pretty heavy burden.  So I did all the things I was supposed to in order to again the approval from my father (which rarely ever came) and the sky Daddy (which never came).

After leaving religion I am now faced with how I am supposed to raise my kids.  I can’t look back on my childhood (for more than just the religious reasons).  My son who is 4 has some recollection of having been to church and some of the seeds that were planted there.  For example, I haven’t revealed my lack of faith to my father yet.  One day he came into town and wanted to have dinner with us.  We set the table and food was put down and we were all seated.  He gives me the “grace?” look.  I had a small panic attack.  Was this going to be the moment when I have that conversation with him.  I wasn’t ready for that!  My son sitting next to me grab my hand and his hand and bows his head and says “Thank you Jesus for this food, Amen”.  Saved by my 4 year old!

Now in this moment I was glad for it as it saved me from either an awkward conversation I wasn’t ready for, or a lie and a continuation of pretending to be something I wasn’t.  But it made me realize that I need to have a plan here.  I need to put together a road map of how I’m going to teach him about the world.  I’ve already started him out on using the scientific method to find the answers to questions but there is more to life than that.  I don’t have it all figured out yet but hope to get it going and not just continue to make it up as I go along.

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What happened next?

So I sat in the ruins of my former belief system wondering what am I supposed to do now?  I became very bitter and distant from everyone including my family. I began to look at what was left.  I realized that I had no actual reason to believe in any god.  I started to look into what atheism is.  In the simplest of terms atheism is a lack of belief in a god.  I was an atheist.  I guess I needed a label in my mind to kind of check off a box of some sort.  With the box checked I did more digging and came upon The Atheist Experience.  It’s an internet based call in show where theists and atheists call in with questions.  I binged probably about two years worth of shows through podcasts in about a month.  It helped me clarify some of the things I was wondering about and gave me a sense of a new foundation of thinking critically.

I also began seeing a therapist at this time.  He’s helped me kind of see the world differently.  Sort of like having being in the dark for a while and having your eyes adjust to the light (funny, a year ago I would have used the same wording to describe what it’s like becoming a Christian). He diagnosed me with “adjustive disorder”.  Again it’s nothing more than a phrase for what I was experiencing but I  like my check boxes.  I continue to see him on a regular basis however most of my short fusedness, depression, anger, and bitterness have come down to a more manageable level.

So that’s the story so far.  I continue to look into new ways of thinking about the world with out my religious lens and that’s really what the blog is going to be about, my observations.  I hope that you all can help me point out flaws in my reasoning and continue to help me grow as a person.  If you have anything you’d like to see me tackle I’d be up for that too!

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My background or how I became a godless heathen

The date of my final conversion (or deconversion as it were) was May 14th 2017,  but the story starts further back than that.

As a Christian I had always struggled off and on with doubt.  I think every Christian does whether or not they are willing to admit to it.  But things ramped up for me when my wife and I went through a miscarriage.  I remember thinking about the verse in Jeremiah that talks about God knowing us while we were in our mother’s womb and asking myself “If you made this person why did you kill it?” and “If you love me so much why would you hurt us like this?”  It was quiet jarring.  The thought crept into my mind that it would be easier to accept that the universe was completely random than a loving god doing this to me.  Thus began my cognitive dissonance.  For those who don’t know cognitive dissonance is when you hold two opposing beliefs at the same time.  An example would be someone who thinks we need to care for the environment yet drives a Hummer.  I thought the world made more sense with out a god but clung desperately to the belief in one.

I lived in this state for a couple of years, wavering on and off to church, looking for other churches that might show me how to make sense of it.  Nothing did. I prayed for an hour every morning asking god to say something to me to let me know he was there…ANYTHING.  The song by Great Big World kinda became my anthem for a while.  But alas nothing.  Silence.  I invented excuses for why I didn’t hear anything.  Maybe I wasn’t a good enough Christian.  Maybe it was because I wasn’t tithing enough.  Maybe I wasn’t praying right.  Maybe it’s because I was doubting that he wasn’t talking to me.  But as time went on I pushed the problem to the back burner.  I went through the motions.  I played the part well enough.  I served in my ministry and went to all the meetings I could.  I felt like a zombie aimlessly lurching along until I found my next meal.

At this point my wife and I now had two awesome kids but it became too much of a strain to keep doing ministry.  We both stepped out and just never went back to church.  It was nice sleeping in on Sunday morning but I still felt the obligation to go to church somewhere.  Again I looked around at churches.  Maybe just find somewhere I could go, sit in the back and leave with out having to do anything else.  I quickly lost the ambition to do even that.

It would be a good 6 months before I went to another church.  It was on Mother’s Day 2017.  We were invited to the dedication to of the daughter of a family friend.  My wife was asked to be the god-mother.  I figured this would be a good chance to give church another go.  I walked in and it all felt very familiar yet foreign at the same time.  We made our way to the auditorium and took our seats just as the video announcements started.  This moment right here is what made me flip.  The first announcement came up and it was the worship pastor.  I’ll have to paraphrase as its been some time since then but it went something to the effect of “Hi I’m the worship pastor here and can you believe I used to be a barista? (yes, yes I can) I can tell you that our coffee is the best this side of the Mississippi, so make sure you stop in to the cafe after service and buy yourself a cup and maybe a pastry too!  If you’re new here let them know and they’ll hook you up with a free cup!”  It was like the rose colored window I’d been looking through shattered.  This is just another business!  They just want to make more money so they can improve the building, so they can make more money.  All my years of indoctrination suddenly flooded into my mind.

I suddenly found myself in a very scary state.  The foundation that I had made nearly every decision upon just fell out from under me.  Things I once KNEW to be true suddenly weren’t.  There was no magical figure in the sky who loved me and was watching out for me.  I wasn’t created special, I was the result of millions of years of evolution.  I didn’t have a divine purpose, the only purpose to life now was what I ascribed it.

As this post has gotten rather long I think I’ll leave what’s happened since to the next post.  I plan on using this as kind of a sounding board for the thoughts that come into my head about the journey I’m on now and where it leads.  Feel free to chime in with any thoughts you might have.