I posted this question in a blog post, but it might mean more in this group. Nate's experiences were truly horrible. Sharing those experiences, and transcending them, gives others a sense of hope. Nate, if you could somehow go back and erase all of those memories, would you? Do the memories, or your experience of overcoming them, give you meaning? What about other members who had difficult religious experiences?

I've gone back and forth on this issue in my mind. Sometimes I would erase it all. Other times, I think that I have at least been inoculated against any future religious infection. Sometimes, I feel like it happened to someone else, and I just recall it like something that I read in a book.

Tags: memories

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I wouldn't. For one thing, as you suggest, it's given me inoculation. I may have spent decades switching between denominations, or even trying out Islam or something else. Things were bad enough that I started to question the "revealed truth" and found it to be about as hol(e)y as swiss cheese. Also, since other people are still in, I think it would be impossible for me to reach out to them if I didn't know where they were coming from. I've been there, done that, understand the appeal. It's hard to get anyone else out of a cult, if you don't know what it's like to be in one yourself.
Tough question... But I do think I would erase my previous exposure to such fear driven dogma if I could. Today, I am at peace. Today, I am not worried if I might be wrong. BUT I often wonder if those religious scars will rear thier ugly heads should something devistating happen to me down the road.

My Mom was one of the most "godly", committed Christians I have ever known. She served "god" in every aspect of her life. At 40, she was diagnosed with stage 4 terminal breast cancer. I watched her faith grow stronger through her illness. She spoke at churches and people often told us how "blessed" they were by her faith in such a difficult situation. She knew that she was leaving 3 children behind, and yet she praised "god" for being able to fulfill his plan in this way. (I get sick thinking about it!!) Anyway, a few days before she died, she woke up from a long sleep screaming. We couldn't calm her down! She claimed that she had been to hell while sleeping and that she KNEW now that she hadn't done enough for her "god" while she was on earth. She screamed and cried and trembled on her death bed. She died believing full well that she was going to hell for eternity. Folks, THIS is what indoctrinating children with the sick words of the bible gets you. And I am afraid that because I was indoctinated in the same way that she was, I may suffer the same fate when my time comes.

The only things that brings me peace is knowing that while my scars may never go away, and I may, in a moment of weakness, succomb to those fears like my mother did... I am breaking that cycle of abuse and fear for my children. I only wish my parents had woken up to the truth and that I didn't have to suffer the consequences!!
geeze, Katie, that's terrible! Your mom should never have had to deal with that. I'm certain you will NOT go thru the same, because as you said at the beginning of your post, you are at peace.
You already know the truth, and you can't go back.
You have stopped the cycle with your children for the very same reasons I did with mine. This is how we build a better world!
Thank you, Kitty!! I really hope you are right.
When I posted this question, it was in a hypothetical sense. I wonder if, thinking about the memory as a choice, we may gain a kind of power over those memories.

We are not there yet, but there may come a time when we can do exactly that. Today I listened to a report on NPR about using an experimental drug, and having a patient recall a painful memory while the drug was administered. The memory did not erase, but it did take away the power that the memory had on the victim of abuse. So one day this thought-experiment might be reality. (I had added a clip from CBS but it would not stop playing and was annoying, so I deleted it).
Yes. I definitely would.
Absolutely not. I may be the odd bird out but I had a blast in my "church home". Of course, for a long time I knew no other alternative and thought everyone went to church, prayed to god and searched for Jesus. My dad was a frustrated scientist who was a great businessman. He first introduced me to the wonders of the universe. As for church, I can't forget those fabulous dinners on the grounds, summer trips (where we'd discuss how far to go with girls so they wouldn't tell - LOL).

I miss the friendships more than anything. We rattle on about crazy beliefs but the fact is that church folks are there to help in a NY second with food, day care, money, etc. The atheist community is very hesitant to act this way and seems to substitute politics for fellowship. So no, I would not erase my religious experience.
Unfortunately, if I erased my long winding road of religion there wouldn't be many years left! Seriously, I met and continue to meet many good people who are simply good folks--I don't think it's because of their faith but because they're decent, caring human beings. These are the ones who don't use their faith or their holy books as weapons. Last winter I directed a county emergency homeless shelter and worked closely with evangelicals! That could have been very difficult but these folks did something I could never do when I was one: they set aside their faith to be compassionate. Sounds strange, and they don't necessarily agree, but I think this is where some common ground can sprout a new kind of working ethic. Here's an essay I wrote on "Mission Beyond Faith?" I had to find that while working as an interfaith chaplain. Networking, doing what needed to be done, building working boards, and counseling. I had to learn to be open and able to transcend the theistic or non-theistic judgments. Otherwise, I'm married to a protestant minister (I hear the groans?) so if I deleted all religiousness in my life I guess I'd miss a great deal! Yet, she's saved! She's a community organizer! By the way, I'm glad in some ways that I studied so much of the bible (and taught "wisdom books"), even in Hebrew and Greek. That background is invaluable in those "conversations." (you know what I mean). Now I'm "editing" a Natural Bible. Why not?
Many atheists have yet to acknowledge the charitable acts sustained by churches - food banks to clothing stores, toy stores, paying bills, counseling, etc. I know what you mean about not having much left if you remove religion and its history. Most everyone I know goes to church and I admit I miss that sense of fellowship. I tried a local group of skeptics but it was way too serious and political.

We're trying to politicize every facet of human existence. Even snacks at meetings became an ideological purity test with all the vegans, no fat, processed, additives. dye, only organiic, etc. I was invited to the 75th anniversary of my childhood church. What a spread those ladies had! Michael & Jane Stern, the Jewish food critics from CT, discovered that the more pictures of Jesus in a restaurant, the better the food! LOL
smb12321 (can I call you smb for short?),
You are absolutely right about the roles of churches in community structure, fellowship, charity, are missing in much of atheist life. I wish those were present.

One random thought is that atheists subsidize the churches by making contributions to same tax exempt, and the same goes for their property. The rest of us pay higher taxes as a result. Still that's little consolation. Maybe no consolation.

If we really got into it, we could create secular community centers or even just an occasional potluck or dinner out. I don't know if there is a "meet-up" section to A|N but it would be a great function.
I think it's doable.

Have a non-religious community!

J.
I wrote an essay about this for Freshman English (which I only just took this Spring, despite being well on my way to 30). And I'm trying to see the silver lining here.

I feel that my religious indoctrination gave me or helped me to discover a sense of curiosity and wonder about the way things are, where we come from, etc. Once I eschewed my religion, I had to search for answers elsewhere. Now I'm on an educational path to become an astrophysicist. Would I have gotten here otherwise? Maybe. Maybe not. I try not to have regrets.

In addition, I think I tend to have a ... naive personality. I was going to be duped into SOMETHING, indoctrinated SOMEHOW. But now, having come through this on the right side, I feel so much more equipped to deal with all the bullshit in the world, able to sift through it and really think about it for myself. Having to work my way out of the binding confines of fundamental religion is what made those muscles strong for me.

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