Category Archives: beliefs

…then why doesn’t it work?

 

“Give your life to Jesus and you’ll never be alone again”

Or any other variation of that exact pitch. The promise that God in your life is going to make all the difference. The promise that he has the perfect spouse for you, the perfect goal or job in life or even health and wealth if you play your cards right.

The idea that making a spiritual alliance with the creator of all existence will somehow solve your deepest inner dilemma’s once and for all. Always with the disclaimer that it won’t be easy all the time.

And that’s only the starter kit. After that we have plenty of groups and programs to help you on your way to finding whatever it is you’re looking for. Prayer meetings, soaking sessions, seminars on the gifts of the holy spirit, preaching  and teachings on whatever we can construct out of the bible, and if that doesn’t work we’ll build on top of what was already built on top of that. Weekends where one church visits another one so you can all mingle. Weekends where we’ll tell you to be guilt free while at the same time telling you what a horrible sinful abomination of a creature you are.
And have you heard of our special one on one spiritual/therapy hybrid sessions?

Also, if you stick long enough with us you can even aspire to become part of our team.
You’ll fly like an eagle distributing pamphlets, praying for people, operating lights and sound, being on stage giving a pre-made preaching or even, yes you guessed it, doing the dishes and cleaning the toilet for the glory of God himself no less.

It doesn’t matter what you want to do in life we’ll try to make it work…just as long as you try to become like us.

And whatever you do, always say Jesus is the best thing that ever happened to you.
Did I say Jesus? I meant to say our church.

What more can we do to sell our Lord and savior, I mean Church, I mean product to you today?

*applause*
What a sales pitch huh? All of this buzz and activity around this cute and innocent idea they’re trying to sell. And surely it must work because these people are highly motivated.

Lets get back to the title. Then why doesn’t it work?
Why is it that after years and years of this crap I’m right now in a place in life where I’m putting the pieces back together again after leaving the aforementioned circus behind? Why is it that I am seriously considering getting some professional therapy to help me through the damage that’s been done by this sort of malarkey?
Why?

And please don’t tell me I didn’t try hard enough. Just don’t.
You can’t promise a God and a church that will take care of everything eventually and then shove it all in my shoes, that’s not fair by any stretch of the imagination.
That sounds more like a cheap scam.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not knocking theism of any kind. We’re all entitled to experience the contemplative journey that lies behind that door if we so desire to and I feel we have a right to pilot that one ourselves as well in a healthy way.
But organized religion is just a scam, it’s just another way people found to exploit one of life’s wonderful innocent things and turn it into yet another gaping wound.

It’s the market place where a certain Nazarene once got quite angry.

A snapshot of the journey

 

Sometimes I’m grateful and happy,
Sometimes I’m sad, bitter and regretful

Sometimes I dream, hope and pray
Sometimes I contemplate, bicker and curse

When I pray I speak to “my Lord, my God,…Jesus”
But then other times I express gratitude and worship to life itself, to existence.
That’s when I feel no need to put a face or a name on “it”.

Sometimes I’m hardly grateful at all.
It’s when I give up on the future, dreams and love.

And yet there are also times, where I’m amazed that I still get out of bed with my head held high, convinced that my adventure has only just begun, and the best is yet to come.

I wish I could say I’m mostly the later guy, but to be honest I seem to spend equal amounts of time in both moods. The optimist and the pessimist.

But that’s not all bad, there have been times where I hardly had any optimism at all. In fact that was only a few years ago.

I’m going to turn 31 soon and after a very turbulent and intrusive time in my life I finally have found moments where I feel more at ease with myself and who I am.
Where there is no need to pretend for anyone or anything.

My life was going a steady course. But then slowly the”God”-thing made it’s way into my life. And that it did a lot of damage, something most church Christians give me a funny look for when I bring it up…  Don’t get me wrong, as immensely conflicting and frustrating faith can be at times, I do love God.

My faith was simple and pure. Not very complicated, adventurous,…everything you want in your movie. But then the church got involved…and it all went to hell.
I learned a lot and my world became a whole lot bigger, but there are plenty of times where I honestly can say “I wish it never happened”. And sadly that is where most church goers will never understand me. But I don’t need them to anymore either.

I am part of the demographic Church has failed to cater to, you’ve hurt us by not understanding us. And now we’re all leaving you, the institutionalized religion, behind.
And some of us are angry that you refuse to understand us, instead of admitting you’re like us you keep clinging onto empty traditions and practices, because they feel safe.
The disenfranchised have gotten the message. You don’t want to play nice with the other kids…

Luckily there is love and life after church. It took a lot of contemplating, spending time with my feelings, going over all the things that had happened. I have found a certain peace with the idea that, I don’t need to belong there. As much as the “church” wants you to believe that.

It took friends, friends that are people I genuinely want to spend time with rather then Mister “Youthpastor-Mc-go-getter”…God I can’t stand those kind of people.

It took my real parents, it took my real sister, it took my agnostic friends, my atheist friends, my satanist friends, my fellow believers who also have been pushed out of church.

It took all of them to heal bits and pieces of my heart.

It’s true, sometimes it’s hard, and I feel like giving up.
But then again, there’s also plenty of moments where I feel like I’m going to be just fine.
If you’re lucky enough like me, you might find a certain poetry in your life that makes thing bearable. And that gives you just enough hope to be a dreamer.

 

 

This is not a prayer

Have you ever noticed how some Christians post their prayers on social media and completely ignore Matthew 6:5-6? But lets not be hypocrites here, every believer no matter what kind ignores plenty of scripture, because lets face it, living by the book 100% is just impossible.

No, what irks me more about that is the idea that somehow by posting their prayers “to God” in public they want to achieve… what?

Lets rephrase and deconstruct that a bit shall we? The interaction with God, the prayer, is being interacted with other people. So either it’s a prayer to God or it’s a message to people.

Because ask any “christian” or even people from other faith’s and you’ll notice that nearly all of them will confirm that prayer is to be done unto God, not other people. Well, there’s always that weirdo sitting in front of church of course…

Then why is it that Christians do this? Why do you so often see some “defender of the faith” taking on the internet trying to win an argument by obnoxiously stating their beliefs and finishing that of with a nice big fat “AMEN”?

It’s not like their statements get more validity that way right?

No it’s not that either, there is something about posting a “prayer” that is cringe worthy and  a bit hypocritical. And it’ll usually come from the same people who post those flowery and quaint pictures with scripture on it along  the lines of “a prayer a day keeps the devil away”…(for the theists among you: that’s not how that works btw)

The interaction of posting a prayer is more likely to be a false way to either:

1: “Win” an argument with a non argument

2: Gain approval and favor from fellow believers

3: Tell people what you think is right

4: Get attention

5: Christian slacktivism

6: Showboating (self-)righteousness

I’ve noticed this at prayer meetings as wel (that was back when I used to attend those gatherings of awkwardness). Some poor girl praying her heart out telling God she was so grateful for her parents accepting her for who she is. While she was sitting right next to them. And sure that might be a little ironic it’s also absolutely beautiful, humanity showing one of it’s more humane sides.

But in a way I do feel bad for her, she was raised in a way that this was the norm. Why do we have people who feel so locked in their beliefs that they can’t just flat out say what’s on their hearts? Why did the christian culture evolve into something where prayer has become a vessel for our communications to other people when according to “our beliefs” it’s supposed to be an interaction with God exclusively?

So tell people what you want to tell them, and do it directly. Trust me if you start doing that, you might even cut down the church gossip in half.
Pray to your God, and do so privately. You’ll be less confronted with people knowing too much about you, or even taking advantage of such information.

If I may even may raise the challenge a bit higher, do it like you mean it.
Say what’s on your heart even if it’s less holy.
Don’t pretend with your God, after all, he’s supposed to know every nook and cranny of who you are.

And for the love of keeping your souls hinders out of the eternal frying pan, keep your prayers of the internet.

The silence of the sheep

Our little church fellowship was quick to adapt to the latest internet trends and implement them for their own use. That’s how we ended up with our own little private facebook group.

And the fact that it was private was great for a while, you could ask for prayer or similar things of a more personal nature that you didn’t feel comfortable sharing outside of your own church community.

That’s also how I approached church. I shared everything like it was family, some people were even surprised sometimes. Someone told me once she was impressed with how I openly shared that I had my heart broken by a girl back then (to give an example). And as much as I appreciated her positive noticing. I couldn’t help but also feel a slight disappointment.

Why was this noteworthy? Why wasn’t this commonly practiced to really share your feelings among another? It’s supposed to be a family right? But she was right, this wasn’t an everyday practice. In fact it would happen more often that I would open up about something deep during “smallgroup” like gatherings and it would lead nowhere or awkward silences. Oh don’t worry I always kept things appropriate. It’s that they just didn’t know how to deal with real conversations. Look if you’re going to encourage your church members to open up about personal feelings and experiences, don’t be surprised and stand by helplessly when they actually do come to the surface.

It’s embarrassing and hurtfull to the person opening up and it makes you look like a  jackass. It’s the equivalent to saying “fall backwards, I’ll catch you, just trust me” and then just letting the guy drop on his ass. (Yeah I’m a theist who uses semi-salty words, what about it?)

Which brings me to another instance. I once posted on before mentioned private facebook group an article about things that athiests and christians can find common ground in, and how we can improve living alongside one another.

In fact here it is=>
http://www.cracked.com/article_15663_10-things-christians-atheists-can-and-must-agree-on.html

It’s a long read and I don’t expect you to read all of it, it kind of boils down to this=> regardless of what your views and/or beliefs are, don’t take them too serious and cut others some slack.

I’d say that’s a healthy approach to things and one that everyone should be able to find some common ground in right? If all of humanity collectively unlenched a bit once in a while about their “way”. Maybe we’d end up with less decapitations and bombings.

But apparently this is against the agenda of the average christian church pastor. Apparently posting articles like these causes you to be called aside to receive a stern talking too. He found it necessary to point out that spreading ideas like these might be bad and confusing to the newcomers.

What newcomers? And what’s confusing? Suddenly when someone visited your church they’re automatically considered to be a convert? And those so called newcomers can not be subjected to ideas that aren’t yours? What are you going to do, lock them up until they learned to interpret existence and everything in it your way?

*cough*CULT*cough*

To close:
In all seriousness, if you find in ANY way shape or form that the church you attend shows any sign of oppressiveness towards ideas that are humane, loving towards others, and open minded, leave that place. If you are like me, a searcher of truth and honesty you will be dissapointed and disillusioned sooner or later with that place so you might as wel save yourself a lot of heartache and get going. Sadly there are more power hungry pastors out there then you’d like to know. Also, if you find that some church gatherings are awkward and leave a lot to be desired, don’t go and be honest about it. And don’t let anyone shame you or talk you into going, that is a shame on them, not you. God never wants you to go to any of these meetings if they don’t feel natural to you. God never needs you to share your personal feelings, thoughts or history with anybody from “church” in order for Him to work with it. Don’t be too trusting of “churchleaders”, they have to earn your trust just like anybody else. And they can also lose it like anybody else.

God bless you on your journey through life, I hope you’ll be safe and spared from situations like these.

 

Christian parenting gone wrong

Wow, now there’s a topic that’ll have plenty of panties in the bunchiest of bunches.

If you’ve been or still are part of a church you probably have been confronted with the topic of how to properly raise children in a christian environment or with a christian mindset.

Right of the bat, I don’t have any kids myself. I’ll give you that much. But I have been one myself for a while…heck some would even argue I still am one at 30.

What I have mostly witnessed in church is young children getting taught the bare basics of faith in a very pre-packaged way. And what other way is there to do it anyway? I mean an 8 year old is barely going to have the insights to properly asses all of the ins and outs that come with a particular faith in a world as big and diverse as ours is.

However if you have an eye for generations passing by you’ll quickly notice a few  constants.

Kids are smart, kids grow up fast and kids rebel.

Kids are smarter then we often give them credit for and at a younger age then we expect. At some point you should explain them that different people believe in different versions of God without having to make a statement of monopoly on your view being the exclusive truth about existence.

Next to that, at some point every kid is going to rebel, even if it’s just a little like spitting on the sidewalk when mom isn’t watching or sticking your finger up your nose when the pastor is preaching about yet another way he found to interpret those 3 vague lines of scripture (whooptie-frigging-doo). It’s natural, everybody does it, I would even argue it’s the way God made us. I bet you Jesus was quite a scoundrel himself, that’s why they got rid of the writings talking of his teenage years I’m sure. It’s a part of growing up, forming an identity, learning to think for yourself and so on. And here is where Christianity drops the ball.

They get God involved, or rather, they say he is.

I once saw a mother giving her child hell for having two promises at the same time.
At first she was supposed to be at her fathers (parents divorced) but then she found out mom went swimming. She lied and said that was cancelled so she could also go swimming.

Not entirely correct, but I doubt the world will explode from it.

What followed once this came to light was nearly half an hour of her mother giving her hell about it. And what’s right is right, a mother should correct her child but it’s the way she went about it that bothers me.

She went on and on about how God didn’t approve and how she surely has chosen the devil now. If it went on much longer I would have sworn she would have started trying to “cast out demons” from the poor thing.

First off all, that’s ridiculous, if you want to make clear to your kid that you’re displeased with her. Make sure you let her know it’s YOU who is displeased with her. You are NOT God. What God has to say about this is between the kid and God himself. If you really believe he exists you also have to believe he can speak for himself.
You have no business speaking for him, none whatsoever. Lest you be stoned to death like a false prophet. I may be borderline agnostic but if there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s people prancing their self invented “words of God” around. Analise yourself and show a little respect to the originator being please.

Second of all, what do you think is going to happen when she grows up? Rebellion, rebellion against everything she experiences as unpleasant and oppressive. And since you did such a bang up job involving God almighty himself in every single tongue lashing she received, God, her final fail-safe in life, might be rebelled against as well. And you, the over concerned and conservative parent, has done everything to make it that way. This child didn’t have the devil inside of her, you put it there.

To close, here’s a video displaying a similar situation. I’m sure this young man will grow up to be one fine and healthy minded individual…once pigs take on aviary flight.

I don’t know about you, but I had an urge to vomit when I saw that young child being spiritually abused like that.

#Prayershaming

As you may have heard last night November 13th 2015, there was a terrorist attack in Paris surrounding an eagles of death metal concert. This is horrible, something we as humanity must stand against in any shape and form. And at any rate we should all stand together against this.

Someone from my family was in Paris at the time, but thank God she was safe.
See? I expressed gratitude towards a being or idea that is strongly linked to religion.

Now I myself in this blog stand vehemently against cultural heritage and traditions in religion that are inhumane ranging from wrong indoctrination all the way to annoying worship music.

And I greatly sympathize with people who feel offended by religion in general, I have a bad taste from it myself and at times I wish it never came into my life.

That said however, this morning when I opened up the feed from my social media site at choice I was confronted with another attack. People I consider acquaintances or some them even close friends. A barrage of posts against religion. Even though I understand the motivation it should be noted that I feel my partaking in religion does not contribute to tragedies like these.
You could say I could better spent my time and energy voting with my feet by leaving. And sometimes I feel like it. But at the same time I always want to keep one foot in the door. Firstly because my heart dwells in and out of it. Secondly, the world of religion is not going to be solved or improved by simply just bashing it. We need dialogue.

Next to that, there’s also lots of people who dismiss the idea of prayer. Saying it’s a waste of time and that it doesn’t do anything to help anyone. Almost as if to say you’re just as bad as the terrorists themselves.
Are you even hearing yourselves anymore people? I’m a mid western citizen who works a 9 to 5 kind of job, I have never been arrested for anything and if I ever should have been it was for stealing a guitar pick. (and yes, if the christian premise holds true Jesus also died for that sin)
The worst thing I do on a regular basis is maybe drink one or two beers too many on a Saturday night every 2-3 weeks, and even when I do that I make sure never to harm anyone.

And you are telling me off because I happen to choose to take a moment of reflection and gratitude dedicated to the safety of my family? That is below the belt and not only that, it’s unnecessary at a time like this. If you want to debate the logistics of prayer fine do so, but don’t link that debate to a tragedy like this when it’s still fresh. You’re shooting your fellow soldiers here. Even worse you’re drawing focus away from the real bad guys in this situation.

If prayer doesn’t do anything and it’s wrong because of it, then so is changing your facebook profile pics to something related to the current event (now being a picture of the Eiffel tower). No, trust me by the time you’ve changed your pic so has everybody else and it defeats the purpose of raising awareness. And if it’s done to show support, well so does my prayer. What a crime against humanity huh?

If prayer is wrong then so is telling everyone religion is bad. No, the world of religion is too damn big and diverse to just say that they’re all bad people or they are all wrong. That’s a stupid argument, you can disagree with religions all you want, but just flat out saying they’re all bad people is retarded.  And no we’re not going to argue theists vs atheists, that is old, dead, superfluous time wasting for children who still want to “win” the debate from those “other” people.

I get it, you’re frustrated with religions in general because they’ve done great harm over the course of history. And in your eyes prayer is something people uphold rather then do naturally and they’d be better of without. I get that, but could you please stop putting prayer in a spotlight where it’s almost as bad as raping and killing? They are not the same.

I take time and effort to learn about the differences between sexual identities and the likes in order to respect people more and for the sake of learning about it. Maybe you could do this as well and actually take some time to learn about people their many diverse beliefs. At the very least you’ll be able to say something more focused in the direction of “stop terrorism”.

In a world where political correctness still needs a lot of shaping right?

hashtag #prayershaming

Update: 5/12/2015

Hey guys apparently the hashtag “#prayershaming” sort of took on a life on it’s own. There’s a whole lot of articles linked to it, and so far as I can tell I’m the first one who’s came up with this tag. Which I’m grateful for if that’s really the case, I mean lets be honest it’s kind of fun and novel in a way. However I also find it somewhat sad that it sort of turned into a political debate. This was my outcry for people to stand together in tolerance and open mindedness opposing terrorism. Sadly however, as far as I can tell (haven’t read all the articles yet) it became a rallying cry in America to point fingers between political parties. I know you guys mean well. But lets talk about individuals instead of political parties.
Also I might update this article since I really was going on a bit of a rant out of emotion and didn’t put too much thought into it.

 

Aftersale nightmares from the divine

“Your call is verry important to us, please hold”

“All our staff are currently occupied, please hold”

And it goes on and on like that, phonecalls that get dropped. People that finally do get someone on the line might get treated snarky, or have to settle for some feel good answer without really getting a solution for their problem. Please hold, …please hold. Those that do get a solution might find that it’s only a temporary fix that only ties them over for a little while. Meanwhile it’s beeing advertised everywhere that customers get miraculous aftersales and customer service.

And the company hasn’t got a clue why business isn’t doing that well. They just can’t seem to figure it out. There’s plenty of complaints going around and the individual establishments of the franchise have mixed responses ready. Some try to take them to heart and make an honest investment from their own local budget in order to do what they can. But there’s others who just collapse under the negativity and give up. And who can blame them? The guidance from above seems diffirent for every other individual store, like every establishement is dealing with a diffirent ceo entirely.

There’s even rumours of some getting ridiculous budgets that they spend on frivolous and vain advertising without really doing anything for the customers.

And the customers themselves they either give up or have to weed through the forests of diffirent franchises and establishements until they possibly find a good one that fits them and is nearby. And then it’s only a matter of time and endurance to see how long they’ll be tolerated once real problems arise.

“Your prayer is verry important to us, please hold”

“All our blessings are currently occupied, please hold”

And that’s how I feel about God lately sometimes. The head of a company that suposidly has the best product out there. Eternal life… and it comes with amazing benefits. They suposidly would help you get your life on track and have the right things show up on the right time. A job, a spouse, great health benefits, financial aid,…everything you can think off should be covered. Or atleast that’s what they, the church, sometimes advertise.

And the truth is most of the aftersales go nowhere. Prayers don’t get heard, get brushed off with some feelgood “oh but God loves you” answers. The gospel is beeing preached everywhere but nobody really seems to know what it is anymore because everywhere you go it’s diffirent. And ofcourse every single branch of the company claims their’s is the real product that has been blessed directly from God himself…then why don’t the other ones get the same one? And why do the results all seem the same?

If God were the head of a company and the company would be church(advertising) and the reality of answered prayers (customer service/aftersales) I imagine it would be a nightmare. It would be a miracle by itself that this company would even exist. There is no authority from above because the churches just don’t seem to listen or want to walk in line. And customers just give up in droves because they get tired of waiting.

Waiting for healing, waiting for a spouse, waiting for their needs to be met with something other then a one size fits all feelgood answer.

Has God taken a long vacation? Or has He given up? Maybe he decided only to help customers that have a positive attitude in a move highlight the succes stories and try to save budget on lost causes.

I don’t know anymore… lately I’m trying to revise my faith from all angles because it just doesn’t add up anymore. Trying to drop the westernised tendencies from the christian faith is really difficult beeing born and raised european. And I can’t find real closure about the idea that God is all powerfull, all knowing and all capable. Yet sometimes it seems like he just leaves people to their own devices or lets them be struck by bad luck over and over again just because…

That can’t be the reality of a loving God. But I also have no peace with the idea of a God who is just absent. He created existence for us and just sort off took off a while aggo.

Yes you can call it a crisis of faith, or maybe it’s a formative time. It just doesn’t add up sometimes…

And before anyone tells me “God’s dead get over it”. That’s really blunt and somewhat disrespectfull of what I’m going through. And eventhough I fully understand there’s plenty of christians who try to do the same to non believers by trying to prove them right over others. That’s not an answer you should force on anyone going through this. Just like nobody should try to force faith on anyone else. I’ve had that happen to me… I’ve learned now to never try that on anyone else. Existentialism is something that should be approached verry carefully and with the utmost respect for the individuals expierience.

Anyway try to be nice out there to eachother, life itself can be painfull enough sometimes without people making it a living hell for eachother.

Angryfish

(disclaimer: don’t get me wrong, there are some things in my life now that are SO good, it makes me say “there must be a God”. There are other things I’m still waiting for as I keep trying…and it makes me bitter.)