I remember the day my grandfather died. I was four and my family was upset. I grasped what they meant by the word "dead", but they were using in in a wholly incorrect context. I knew that because they were upset and I wasn't.
When I was 4, I knew with certainty that I was part of a whole that was omnipresent. I could communicate as it and with it. All that is is a part of it. I tried, using the language of a child, to explain that grandpa was dead, but he wasn't dead, dead. He's here. I was just talking to him in the back yard. I was put down for a nap.
Soon thereafter, I started kindergarten. Everyone was told to stand, and the parents and some kids joined in the pledge of allegiance. I started crying. That which is was so inconsistent with what was happening in the room, I knew it was very wrong. But having no choice in the matter - under threat - I learned to put what I KNEW was wrong aside and I learned to do that which was wrong without feeling guilt.
The following Sunday, I attended Sunday School for the first time. There I learned about God. At first, I thought that Mrs. L was talking about the great oneness of which and with which I am, but I soon learned differently. I learned that this God will get mad at me if I don't pray every day. And I learned that I shouldn't expect my prayers to be answered all the time because God doesn't always answer the prayers of children because they don't always know what is best for them. I was outraged. I wanted to leave on the spot, but I couldn't. My parents would have been mad. I asked my father about it that afternoon - being greatly disturbed - but again, because of the limited language skills of a 4-year old, I was told that Mrs. L. was right. Children don't always know what is best for them.
the following Sunday, I learned about how God sent his son that he loved very much to be sacrificed. The word sacrificed was explained in very bloody and gruesome detail. God did this, I was told, because there was sin in me, and he took the punishment instead of me, so I should love him for that. I looked within and saw no sin. Even if there was sin that I didn't see, I didn't want anyone to be hurt like that because of what I had done. That just isn't fair or right. Why would God do that? What kind of monster is he?
I ran home, ran upstairs, and hid under a blanket under my baby sister's crib. I thought - for less than a minute - that I was safe from God's all-seeing eyes, until I remember that Mrs. L. said that God can see me no matter what I am doing. He can see under beds and in closets and under blankets. God sees everything, and he sees all of my sins that I can't even see. I fell asleep crying. When my mother found me, she asked why I was there, but having learned that they wouldn't listen, and for the first time doubting myself, I had no answer.
From then on, I accepted the lie and pushed more and more of my feelings (my conscience) away until reality was no longer perceptible and my conscience was no longer my guide. I became a good little Christian, dedicating myself to Jesus when I was 12.
I was about 30 when I heard the title of the day's sermon and I ran a prospective sermon quickly through my mind. It would be based on a certain parable of Jesus, I thought. But nothing could be further from the truth. It was based on the teachings of Paul, and rather than be loving, it was quite the opposite.
I thought about this, and suddenly realized that Jesus' teachings were rare in Church where Paul is talked about all the time. The next Sunday, I had a pencil and paper ready. I didn't go to church. I turned on the TV and watched sermon after sermon by televangelists. I wrote down every verse mentioned. No one mentioned any verses spoken by Jesus. I found this odd.
So, in an effort to be a better Christian, I pulled out my red letter edition and started with the Sermon on the Mount. At first, I would just read the words without understanding, but I kept forcing myself to go back and go back and go back and pay attention to what I was reading. This was hard. It wasn't hard when reading any other book. Why was it hard here? Finally, I decided to take only the first Beatitude and nothing more. "Blessed are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven".
I had to read it several times because it said something altogether different from what I had learned in church. In church I learned that those who are poor in spirit (bad) are of the kingdom of Satan and will go to hell. They aren't blessed. They're damned. But here Jesus was not judging them. He was seeing their innate perfection. This one verse went against all of Christianity.
I continued in this way, verse by verse, ignoring any words written in black. It took about eight months, but one day, I finally "got it" in a flash of awareness. Jesus was telling about an entire cohesive and complete philosophy that, if put into practice, would make me as powerful as any god. He was describing what I knew to be real when I was a young child. I also knew that if Jesus died on the cross, then everything he said was a lie that he didn't believe in. I also knew that Jesus could not have been a Jew and he certainly didn't believe in the Christian God. I saw the words about plucking out your eyes or cutting off your hand and recognized that content and style were so different from the rest of Jesus' teachings that they had to have been additions. I continued my studies.
Luckily, I had a friend who had a PhD in theology from Brown. As part of his course work, he had to translate a gospel from Koine Greek (the language of the Bible) into English. He saw so many lies in later editions of the Bible that he came away from the exercise an atheist. What was written just didn't make sense.
That's how I discovered that the text had been deliberately changed. The one called Jesus didn't die on the cross and that if the story about the balcony scene is true, he was released unharmed as he said that he would be because he was as powerful as any god and no one could harm him without his consent - just as I am as powerful as any god and no one can harm me without my consent. The test read that bar abba was released, not Barabbas. One is a phrase. The other a name that didn't come into use until the 3rd century. Jesus never talked about repentance, sin, evil, or hell. The words he used meant very different things, and my friend's dictionary proved it.
The idea that he would commit suicide for me as an act of love was so ludicrous that my brain twisted in something that felt like intense seismic activity. When the knot in my brain sprung free, I was an ex-xtian.
I began practicing how to manifest things and situations into my life and was amazed at the results. And as my confidence in my ability grew, I began to get angry at the church that has done so much damage to humanity. A church that teaches that humans are sinful rather than innately perfect, that humans are vulnerable and powerless rather than all-powerful WITHIN their own realities.
Today, after studying quantum mechanics and the work going on in the field of consciousness exploration, I know that Jesus is saying the same thing that science says. There is no God. There is consciousness. Consciousness is aware. Life is a multidimensional affair and the power point is in the present.
Today, I live in an extremely conservative part of the Bible Belt. I am alone and adrift in a sea of Bible-thumping xtians and I am now also an anti-theist.
Thanks for the forum. Good to get that out.
Yours is a very moving tale. Christians think that if we would only read the bible, we would believe. Most atheists I've met have studied the bible more than any of the christians I have met. We have also studied about the other religions.
Sunday schools should be outlawed. They are invariably taught by someone who donates lots of money to the church and is therefore presumed to have a profound knowledge of the Bad Book, with the depressing result that smart parishioners and smart children of parishioners quickly learn that their teacher represents the very essence of hypocrisy. This leads to erosion of religious belief, and we cannot have that, now, can we? No God, no morality. Do anything you like.
Wow! Your story is very interesting! You were a smart child! Glad you found your way out of religion and onto Atheist Nexus. I'm sure it's very hard to live in the bible belt!