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photo by Sheri Dixon

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ho Ho Hold Up a Minute...

"So...what happened between the two of you?"

People ask me that question quite often when they find out not only am I not a Christian, but I don't believe in any Supreme Being at all.

Because it hasn't always been this way. I was raised up Lutheran and taught Sunday School for years. I was a good practicing Christian who spent the few weeks between the birth of my first two born and their baptisms in mortal (if mostly veiled) terror that something would happen to them and they'd be sent to hell...because they would die unbaptized.

I'm over that now. Alec is completely free of any contact with holy water.

And that's it in a nutshell.

Over time I just got over the whole religion thing.

There wasn't a defining moment when I dramatically shook my fist at the heavens and denounced the god of my family. No pit of despair that I wallowed in and then determined that There Is No God. Just a slow progression towards...adulthood.

Think about all the terminology associated with the American Christian religion- God's children, Our Father, sheep who need a shepherd...all that stuff that doesn't allow us to grow up and take responsibility for our own lives and the direction they may take.

Of course, there's the whole 'free will' thing, which sort of negates the 'being a sheep' thing, but that's the beauty and mystery of the bible, right?

That's also part of it- the book was written by many different men over many generations and it's not cohesive. At all. But instead of saying, "We piecemealed this together- chew it up and it should taste like Faith", the more fundamental Christians are all about literalism. As in, "The bible is literally word for word the word of god". Which is ridiculous.

Because there's a huge difference between Faith and Blind Faith.

Blind Faith caused the holocaust and every other atrocity mankind has been clever enough to conjure up.

You say, "God works in mysterious ways" and I say, "Shit just happens. Life is a crap shoot".

I like things to be as stable as possible because life is by nature unstable and impossible.

So when Ward would be in the cancer hospital getting better and I heard, "AMEN! To God go the glory! God is so good!" and then sometimes minutes later Ward would be in grave danger of not ever leaving the hospital and I heard, "God works in mysterious ways..." I would not accept that. Because that attitude was demeaning and non-helpful.

If Ward got better it was because of his system and the treatments working together as they were supposed to, and if he got knocked on his ass again something went wonky in that physical actual combination and environment.

To think that there is a man in the sky with the equivilent of a voo doo doll and who randomly stabs needles into it for no damn good reason other than to watch the puny humans either lavish praise on him for allowing them to live or to cower in fear at his wrath is creepy and offensive.

So no. I'm not angry at god. To be angry at someone you have to actually believe they are there.

We were discussing Santa the other day and the wheres and whens of when our kids stopped believing in him.

None of my kids had a problem with it- they just saw holes in the whole concept and figured it out for themselves. The two older ones were going to school so had lots of other kids to bounce this stuff off of and never brought me into it. One day they believed, and the next? Adults.

And it's OK. We're all OK. Life is not horrible and pointless; it's beautiful and precious.

We do good not because there's some man in the sky (or at the North Pole) watching us and taking notes; we're good because it's the right thing to do.

Ward being here after all he's been through IS a miracle- a miracle of science and technology and the miracle of courage and tenacity and deep abiding human love.

God didn't do that stuff- it happened because everything worked out to make it happen. Good things and good people line up just right and good things happen. And they don't line up just right because god orchestrates it- they'd line up that way anyway. That's why sometimes good things happen to bad people.

Bad things trip you up when you least expect them not because you're taking the lord's name in vain or not attending church or not praying hard enough but because sometimes shit just happens.

Presents appear under the tree not because some old fat guy trespasses after stalking children all year but because their parents love them and make financial sacrifices to see the smiles on their little faces.

Seriously- which of those scenarios is what you want to believe in?

The bible is a book written by men to explain things they had no explanation for and to make sense of things that seemed random and senseless to them. They did the best they could with the knowledge they had. It was (and is) also a pretty handy way to elicit obedience from large quantities of people.

Like telling children who are all hyped up about Christmas on cookies and wish lists that they need to simmer down and behave because Santa is watching them.

Same concept.

So what happened between god and me?

Not a thing. I just grew up and stopped believing in him. Like Santa.

When I was 4 I believed in God and Santa.

When I was 14 I believed in God.

When I was 24 I believed in God and my kids believed in God and Santa.

When I was 34 I was questioning God as my kids questioned Santa.

By the time I was 44 both God and Santa were out of my life for good. Literally.

At 54 I'm still more than OK with that.

My apologies to both God and Santa if that hurts their feelers...

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