Posts Tagged ‘christianity’

ham_with_cider_glaze_leadWhenever I need a quick pick-me-up, I head over to http://www.dogshaming.com to look at the humorous pictures of dogs caught in shameful situations. Being a dog owner myself, I can relate to a lot of the pictures. Nothing says “I’m a beagle, I had to do it” better than a picture of one in a near coma from having eaten an entire ham — while the evidence is still on the dinner table, in the background. I’ve been there. I just wasn’t able to catch Lilly in the act. She’s sneaky that way.

But, fortunately for dogs, their short-attention spans and the apparent lack of a guilty conscience keeps them from feeling shame for any longer than, say, the time it takes them to lift their hanging heads and look at you with liquid pools of love as if to say “I wuvs you, mommy. You wuvs me too?” I fall for this every time.

However, with humans, shame comes with a much heftier price — which can last long after the shameful incident has occurred. And that’s what this post is about.

teenage-pregnancy

When I was nineteen, I got pregnant. I was unmarried, a freshman in college, and completely terrified. I had been raised in the Catholic church, so I was expected to be the “perfect little Catholic girl” and remain virginal until my wedding day. I was also never given the “big talk” by my mom, because her generation of mothers “didn’t talk about sex”. At least not to me anyways.

Needless to say, the boy I lost my virginity to was the same boy who helped me get pregnant. So much for remaining abstinent. It’s also important to add here that, unlike some of my older siblings, I never went to Catholic school as a kid. Unlike Catholic school sex education (which, by the way is woefully inadequate and borders on ridiculous — I know, I had to teach it), I did get the full course of ‘This is where babies come from and here’s how not to let that happen to you.” I wasn’t completely in the dark about sex. I just grew up hearing “Abstinence and natural planning is the only acceptable practice for Catholics. Birth control is WRONG.” over and over again.

When I officially found out I was pregnant, I knew three things right away: 1) abortion was out of the question, 2) I am not prepared financially or emotionally to raise this child and 3) the child deserves a stable home with a mother and a father, and that wasn’t something I could give him. (it was a boy). Looking back on that moment in the doctor’s office, I still stand by my thoughts.

However, despite knowing that I handled my mistake the best way I could at the time, I have recently come to realize how horribly mishandled I was during this time by my parents–more so by my mom than my dad. I cannot blame my mom for what she did and how she treated me – she was only going on the doctrine of the Catholic church and  how it feels about birth control (absolutely NOT), abortion (eternal damnation if you so much as even think about it) and pre-marital sex (yet another sin so evil *insert eye roll and heavy sarcasm here* if any teacher in any diocese is caught having it they will immediately lose their job).

shame_by_bbastos-d33xu55My mom was horrified of the shame I had brought on to her, the family and, most importantly it seemed, the Catholic church. I felt like the “spiritually soiled girl,” destined for eternal damnation. I was certain I could never get married wearing the white dress, or take communion without confession first (another thing she wanted me to do), and all the other forms of penance and emotional flogging I had to do in order to get back in “God’s good graces.”

In an effort to keep the family safe from my obvious disgrace, I was sent off to live with a woman I didn’t know until the baby was born and I could home again and resume my life as an “unblemished, pure Catholic girl.” I, however, had to continue on with my life as if I had no worries or stressors on me. Instead of much-needed counseling, I was told to continue to “lead as normal a life as possible.”

I enrolled at a community college, bought a cheap gold band to wear as a wedding ring for my non-existent husband who was in active duty in the Marines (part of the series of lies I had to tell everyone so as not to blow the cover off my family’s shame). Lie upon lie was told to friends of the family: she went to live in California, to live with her big brother and attend college out there because it’s free– was the mega lie my mom told her teacher friends.

The guilt and shame were poured on thick. My mom  laid the ultimate guilt trip on me when she insisted I not tell my older sisters I was pregnant — because, according to her Catholic point of view–my non-Catholic sisters would just judge and berate me and call me horribly irresponsible. The irony is startling.

Incidentally, I never did tell either of them until about two years ago — thirty plus years after this all happened. And, unlike what I had been told and feared would happen, neither one of them cast a single stone of judgment in my direction. In fact, both admitted they were saddened to hear that I “couldn’t come to them freely” with this news. They were angry at my mom, though, for letting her Catholicism plant false ideas into my head. Again, that good ol’ Catholic guilt was at work.

Once the baby was born and adopted out, I was told “Okay, that’s over. Time to move on with your life. We’ll never speak of this again. Promise?” Sadly, after all of this trauma and what can only be called “emotional abuse,” I agreed.

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It took ten years before I could even talk about the incident to anyone. I was afraid of being shamed and judged all over again. It took the death of both of my parents to allow myself the opportunity to grieve over the loss. It is taking the help of a great therapist to help me recognize and process the enormous, near-crippling shame I have been feeling since that day in the doctor’s office almost thirty-one years ago. It will take courage, strength and confidence to forgive myself for allowing it to happen in the first place. That’s the hardest part.

Now for the “lesson learned” in all of this. And I hope this message reaches as many religious folks as possible who have found themselves on the precipice of their child’s poor choice(s).

Never, ever shame your child for their mistakes.

Yes, you can tell them you are disappointed, angry, upset, or whatever adjective seems to fit your mood. But, how  you treat them after you share your feelings can and will have lifelong effects. Kick them out because they’re gay and it goes against your religion? Devastating. Kick them out because she got pregnant and it goes against your religion? Devastating. Telling them they are destined for hell because they made a single, poor choice that doesn’t align with your beliefs? ABSOLUTELY, 100% DEVASTATING.

It has taken me thirty-one years to deal with the emotional abuse that has permeated my life and has caused many problems for me. I feel if my situation had been handled without the religious judgment and condemnation but instead with more love, patience and compassion, I would be even better than I am today.

If you wish to shame someone, then try shaming a dog. They don’t seem to care enough about your opinion to suffer any permanent effects.

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I spend a lot of time on Twitter, perusing the following hashtags: #catholic #religion and #atheist. Why? Because I enjoy learning what’s going on in people’s heads and disseminating these blurbs between what is just opinion and what is fact. Right now, in the game of logic, fact and reason, the #atheists are winning hands-down.

What saddens me is the idea that atheists need to “come out” of the closet and profess their non beliefs. This is comparable to homosexuals needing to remain silent about who they are, out of fear or threat of ridicule, violence and discrimination.

I’ve been struggling with this topic for years and have always deferred my true feelings based on the need to “belong” to some group. Admittedly, I had seen atheism as something only angry, agitated, cynical people belonged to. Listening to my brother curse the Catholic church for its horrifying antics (before I investigated his claims and found them to be truthful and honestly deserved) I certainly wasn’t one of those people, therefore I certainly couldn’t call myself atheist…or could I?

After reading and learning as  much as I can about atheism, and what it is/is not, I have realized that it puts my true, authentic thoughts and feelings into something concrete. And everything that I thought about atheists was completely wrong. Ever since I started having short little tweet chats with some very smart people, I’ve realized how much more alive, deliberate, nonjudgmental, accepting and happy atheists tend to be. And those things are exactly what I am looking for in my life.

I am an atheist.

I do not believe in the existence of God or Satan.

I do not believe in the after life reward of heaven, or the punishment of hell.

I do not believe Jesus died, then came back to life three days later.

I do not believe in the bible.

I believe in science.

I believe in evolution.

I believe that this life is the only life we get, and it should be lived to the fullest, without fear of punishment after we’re dead.

I believe in treating ALL others with respect, dignity and acceptance of who they are.

I believe in being a moral person, and that morality is based on genuine human behavior, not coming from an imaginary being or a 2,000 year old book of myths, which promotes rape, genocide, misogyny, incest, infanticide, and so many other abhorrent, immoral things.

I believe in letting others believe what they want, regardless of whether I agree or not.

Lastly, I want to reach out to all the atheists who have helped me find myself during this journey: my sister, my brother (who died in June and is missed), and my many new Tweeps who have made me feel comfortable in expressing my true self. Thank you for helping me gain clarity!

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I fanned the pages of the book out in front of her, but I wasn’t able to find the exact location in the book where it discusses him becoming a father. To be honest, after reading half the book, and not exactly liking what I had read, I decided to skip reading the second half, But that didn’t stop me from lobbing my next series of questions at her.

“Mary Ann, is your boss a dad?” I casually remarked. Her mouth slacked open and she almost spat her words at me. “Of course he’s a dad. He’s the best dad, ever. We’re encouraged to call him “Father”. What’s your point here?”

I didn’t react — I knew this topic was going to be very sensitive. I had to figure out a way to ask what I wanted to ask and get her to explain her answers without her calling for security. I proceeded very slowly.

“Are you a mom?” I smiled, briefly changing the subject in hopes of throwing her off my scent.

“Why, yes I am! I have four kids and three grandchildren. They are my life.” She softened a little.

“I take it you’re married then?” I inquired.

“Absolutely. My husband and I have been married for nearly 45 years.” she glanced at her wedding ring and twisted it slowly around her finger. “What does my family situation have to do with my boss’ family situation?”

“I’ll get to that in a minute, okay? I just wanted to know if you’ve had children. I’m assuming then, based on the rules of your organization, that you had your children the ‘normal way’, with your husband, and of course, after you were married, right?” I smiled warmly at her.

“Yes, of course, but I really am uncomfortable with all these personal questions. What in the world does this have to do with my boss’ book?” she responded quickly, almost a little too quickly.

“I just wanted to get a few things out in the open before my next few questions. I wanted to make sure we understand the definition of the following issues: parenthood, marriage, fidelity and child-birth. It sounds like we’re on the same page here. Is that okay?”

“That’s fine.” she answered, a bit too quickly. I could tell the ice was getting a little thinner where I was skating. I decided to just say what was on my mind and be done with this topic.

“To be honest, I have a few questions about the CEO’s paternity status and how your organization explains it. As far as you know and believe, your CEO had one son. Correct?”

“Yes, one son. I agree.”

“And did he marry the woman who bore his child before he got her pregnant? I know your organization is really against pre-marital sex, and isn’t too keen on women bearing children out-of-wedlock. I hear you can get fired for that nowadays.”

“Um, nooo…he was not married to the mother of his son at the time she got pregnant.”

“Oooh, that’s a little scandalous, don’t you think?” I pointed out.

“No, of course it isn’t scandalous! Let me point out that the woman he impregnated was a virgin at the time she got pregnant. She was completely untouched by any other man, including her husband!”

“Hold on there — are you saying that your boss impregnated a woman who was already married to another man? Is that what I heard?” I gasped.

“Well, they weren’t exactly married in the strict, wedding vows, church, flowers, way. They were just…hoo boy, this is getting difficult to explain here.” she struggled to find the right words.

“Well let me try to help. According to what you know and believe, your boss fathered a child. This child was carried in the womb of another man’s wife for nine months –”

“No, not nine months – six months. She found out six months into her pregnancy that she was carrying my boss’ baby.”

“WHAT? You mean to tell me she didn’t even know she was pregnant for the first SIX months of her pregnancy? You have kids, right? How soon after you got pregnant did you find out?” I was shocked, just shocked.

“Look, I know it sounds crazy, but that’s what it says in his book. You really need to read the parts in the book that explains how he became a daddy. And by the way, I really don’t like that you’re calling  my boss an adulterer. He never even touched the baby mama.”

“You’re kidding, right? Woo. I need a moment to wrap my head around all this. Let me see if I have this straight. Your boss got another man’s wife pregnant without the man’s or the woman’s knowledge for the first six months of her pregnancy. Then, you go on to say he never actually had sexual intercourse with her — he just, what — told her she was carrying his kid? And she was?”

“Yes, that’s what we refer to as the “immaculate conception”. He never touched her, therefore, he never actually slept with her. That’s how it goes.”

“Again, I have to ask you a personal question. This is all a lot for me to take in. But, you do know how babies are conceived and born, right?”

“Of course, I know how reproduction works. I’m not stupid.” she huffed at me.

“Well then, if you know that it takes one sperm and one egg to make a child, how is it even possible that a woman could end up pregnant with another man’s baby (which, is adultery by the way), without ever having had sex or being aware of it for the first six months of gestation? Doesn’t that sound a bit hard to believe? I mean, let’s be honest here. It sounds more like your boss is a bit of a jerk, the way he overstepped his bounds and got another man’s wife pregnant. Wouldn’t you agree?”

“Look, I’m not here to cast judgment on my boss. His behavior is not to be questioned, in my opinion. And, if it sounds  a little crazy, then that’s your opinion. I believe what he told me, because it’s in his book. I strongly suggest you read the second half of the book, as that thoroughly explains this whole subject. I don’t know what else to say. My boss is wonderful, he continues to do amazing things for us every day, and I see no reason to pick apart some of what you consider “illogical statements” in his book. He is loving, kind and merciful. What more do I need to say?”

“Oooh, glad you brought the “loving, kind and merciful” subject up. I was hoping to get to those words next. How are we doing for time?”

Dear Christians:

Well,  you’ve lost another one here. After years of believing in God, going to church, taking communion, and all the other things that revolve around Christianity, I’m giving up. I’m done.

I was raised a Catholic, but am now in recovery. I’m not willing to declare myself 100% atheist, but I am certainly leaning that way. And yes, I’m sure many of you Christians out there might respond: “Well, I hate Catholics too, so don’t give up ALL Christian religions just because you hate the Catholics. That’s not fair to God and Jesus, right?”

That right there is the crux of the issue: the absolute refusal to accept the possibility that “God” may actually NOT exist. You seem to insist on it, and use the bible as your back up proof/evidence. But this is my response: the bible is NOT proof of the existence of God. Just because it is written down does not make it so. If that were the case, I’d write a short story that says I’m rich. Then I’ll show it to people when I go to purchase that really expensive car I’ve always dreamed of but could never afford: “Hey, it’s written down, so it must be true, right?”

porsche-918-spyder-front34

I have a challenge for all Christians who read the bible regularly (I have never read beyond the Old Testament – something I’ll get to in a second). Are you ready for the challenge? Here goes:

Find a verse (or two, if you want) in the bible you do not agree with and/or support. Draw a line through it as though you wish it were removed from the bible permanently. Women, is it something you read about how you’re supposed to be subservient to your man? Colossians 3:18 How he should be allowed to beat you if you misbehave? Beat your children? Proverbs 23: 13-14 (Because, it’s in there, you know). Men, are you a Christian with a tattoo? You might want to read Leviticus 19:28 then – because that’s what the bible recommends. No marking of the skin, no tattoos.

doubtful scriptureHave you found the words or sentences you don’t agree with? Good! Now ask yourself:

If the bible has imperfect wording, how can it be the word of God, who is – according to you, perfect? Perfect people don’t write imperfect words.

If you fail to see the logic here, then perhaps I can offer another challenge:

If you really do want to live your life according to the bible, then you must also do what it tells you to do in the Old Testament too, right? Let me list a few of the immoral acts mentioned in the Old Testament:

Incest

Raping of slave women

Polygamy

War

Slaughtering of innocents

It appears as though the God of the Old Testament was pretty revengeful, and a complete megalomaniac. Sure you want that for a leader?

Ah, but it’s really only the NEW Testament you read and learn from, right? If I remember, Jesus took the general stories of the Old Testament and used them as teaching tools for his followers. Since I never read the New Testament, this is where it gets cloudy for me, and I can’t speak to it, to be fair.

And nor do I want a bunch of bible scripture thrown out at me – remember, if you scratched out at least a line of text or two, that renders the bible “imperfect”. If you believe the entire thing to be true, word by word by word, then you better start living the biblical life, and not get upset when you start getting beaten (women) or your husband comes home with numerous wives because “the bible said I could and it is THE word of God”. Right?

But, I have read the Old Testament, I even taught the Old Testament to children. And, believe it or not, they were more curious and critical of the content. They wanted to know how people could live hundreds of years. They asked me how brothers and sisters could legally marry, and  how can a man marry his wife AND get a slave girl pregnant at the same time? How could someone be so willing to chop his child in half? They were all very good questions, in my opinion. And, to be honest, I wasn’t able to explain away the behavior. All I was allowed to say was, “that’s just how it is stated in the bible – go ask your parents if you have further questions about morality”.

And this is why I no longer care for religion or care about what the bible says. It doesn’t teach people to think, to wonder, to use logic and question the how, what, where, when, and why of the world. All it does is tell them WHAT to think, and HOW to act. That’s not education, that’s indoctrination. If I wanted that, I’d move to North Korea.

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Platitudes“God has a plan for you…”

“When God closes a door, he opens a window”

“It was God’s will…”

“Don’t be sad, he (she) is with God now…”

I have always cringed when someone spoke any of the above phrases to me. I haven’t been able to figure out why until recently when I had to grit my teeth and, with clenched jaws, hear them spoken again and again coming from people who were too happy to witness my world start to crumble down around me. They just didn’t sound authentic to  me. And honestly, all these smarmy phrases did was just make me angrier and more depressed.

The above phrases are known as platitudes. According to Merriam, one of the definitions of platitude is “a banal, stale remark.” And this definition fits perfectly here. Every one of the smarmy, schmaltzy, syrupy sweet sayings about God and his particular role in my life feels like an ice pick to the brain. While I understand and accept that people tend not to know what to say in uncomfortable situations, I also feel that remarks such as those only add fuel to the fire. God has a plan for me? So then I should just sit back and wait until that plan reveals itself? I don’t call that God’s plan, I call that being lazy.

I’ve learned a lot about myself lately, too. And the one thing that I keep coming back to is: it was believing in God and his “plans” that have made me feel like absolute shit about myself. Being brought up in an organized religion didn’t improve the quality of my life – here I am at 50, unemployed and certainly not ready to retire to a life of luxury and leisure. And the biblical scripture that discusses suffering on earth: “For your rewards will be great in Heaven” certainly doesn’t help to pay off my student loans now, does it?

childabuseReligious doctrine also ruined my ability to think for myself and make my own conscious decisions. I wasn’t taught to question the existence of God, I was taught that there is no question – He exists, and if “you don’t do what he says, you’re going to end up in Hell, where you belong, because he doesn’t want you with him in paradise.”  The use of God’s existence to invoke proper behavior out of children is just another form of emotional invalidation and abuse.

If one were to consider the thousands of orphaned and poor Irish Catholic children who were sent to the industrial (read: church run) schools in Ireland who were repeatedly sexually, physically and emotionally abused, one would quickly figure out that the abuse was meted out by religious people who would spew outdated biblical scripture and warped religious doctrine at them in an effort to get little Johnny or Janey to understand that “I must abuse you, repeatedly, because God wants you to know you are always to be under the control of adults who are bigger, scarier and holier than you are.”  What a sick, perverted line of thinking to use on a young, developing mind. All in the name of religion.

I believe it is a safe bet to say that all religions come with their own set of smarmy sayings and platitudes created to help the speaker feel less uncomfortable around the person who is suffering from whatever trauma has occurred in their lives. I know talking about job loss, divorce, and death can be awkward. But, for those of us who choose not to believe that there is a magical sky fairy looking over us, and manipulating us like puppets on a string, those platitudes come across as empty, hollow and, at times, highly offensive.

Perhaps the best thing to say when put into an uncomfortable position is, “I’m sorry to hear this. I hope things get better for you soon,” then just let the person talk, if they need to talk. That’s all I wanted from those around me. That was really all I needed to hear.

Platitudes, schmatitudes.

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GodI have questions for God. Questions only he alone can answer, if he chose to do so. And since I have heard God is all-seeing, all-knowing, all-everything-everywhere, then I find it hard to believe he wouldn’t use social media, email or some type of texting service to communicate with his followers. He certainly shouldn’t reserve his responses to places like churches and battle grounds, right?

So, I hereby submit my questions to God. I’ve tried to get him to follow me on Twitter (since I don’t have Facebook), but so far the only person he follows is Justin Bieber. That douche bag gets all the special treatment, doesn’t he? (Bieber– not God – people aren’t killing other people in the name of Justin Bieber…yet)

 

black-cross-elastic-waist-long-skinny-polyester-pants1. What size and style of pants do you wear?

 

2. What color are your eyes?

 

???????????????????????????????????????????????????3. How much do you weigh?

 

4. Are you right-handed, left-handed, or ambidextrous?

 

 

 

5. What is your actual age right now?

 

6. Where do you go to the bathroom?bathroom-design-ideas-for-apartment

 

7. What kinds of food do you eat?

 

8. Do you have a belly button?

 

That’s all. I figure since people say you answer all questions, I thought I’d throw a few out there for you. Please be as thorough as possible in your responses. Except for questions #6 and #8, I’ve pretty much left them wide open for you.

Thanks!

 

(PS: Thanks for inventing the following things: ice cream, coffee, pizza, friends and dogs)

(PPS: We could use fewer cockroaches)

 

religion-vs-sciences-answers-to-the-big-questions

I was raised a Catholic, but am currently re-evaluating my entire belief system due to several recent incidents that have made me absolutely repulsed by the Catholic church.

I have struggled for years, vacillating between believing in an all-knowing, all-powerful ambiguous cloud type thing who is able to manipulate us like puppets on a string, and scientific theory and evidence.

Does this make me an atheist? No. It makes me an agnostic atheist, with a lot of questions that no one involved in religion can accurately answer for  me.

Waves-Ufo-Visit-Alien-Asgard-Concept-Craft-Forest-Sci-Fi-Ship-Space-705226First Question: Why wouldn’t there be life forms on other planets, if God truly exists?

Think about it, if God truly created the whole universe, but ONLY restricted life forms to ONE planet out of….billions, wouldn’t he be selling himself short? And, if scientists can prove there is life on other planets (via the existence of water, the sole supporter of life), then all humans who worship him need to put away their existing beliefs that only God is the creator of earth, man and all contents on it and accept that something else created all life forms. That also contradicts the arrogant assumption that we humans are the only life forms created in God’s image.  (Personally, I have found more God-like, unconditional, accepting love in the body and heart of my beagle, Lilly, than in some humans I’ve met.)

R730039-Supernova-SPLSecond Question: When the sun explodes, and it will, will God die too?

Here is the number one head scratcher question I’ve posed to religious followers, and their answers have always been ridiculously vague and incomplete. Follow my logic as I lead everyone through this thought process:

1. The sun is a ball of gas with a time limit on it. One day, the gas will be used up and the sun will expand, turn into a red giant, and once the gases are all used up, shed its outer layer and become a white dwarf. This is scientific fact which cannot be disputed by any religious organization.

2. When this happens, the Earth will be obliterated in its path, and all forms of life will cease to exist. Which leads to my second point: God will cease to exist once humans cease to exist. I can explain.

As mentioned all over the bible, God created man, in  his image, to serve him. If there are no more humans, than who will serve God? No one. Therefore, God will no longer have a purpose to exist, and he will blink back into oblivion, just as quickly as humans blinked him into existence.

What a fascinating conundrum, huh?