Tag Archives: church

…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.

 

 

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.

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.)

Those other apostates over there

Apostacy

A word that gets thrown around christian denominations and sects every now and then usually as an insult to point out how others beeing diffirent is wrong and even blasphemous.

And mostly it’ll come from conservatives, charismatics, Kjv only reading, evangelicals, …you get the idea. The kind of christian that believes God is around every corner, not only ready and able, but also about to part a sea and make literall mountains move to display the ginourmousness of his genitals.

Wether or not God is or has that kind of traits to his or it’s personality aside, it comes with a certain attitude. The kind of attitude that says, I’ve chosen to be on God’s side, or God has chosen me to be on his side (armenianism vs calvinism) therefor everything in life is about me. As long as I keep exalting God, He might see fit to increase me at some point, just as long as I keep denying myself over and over again enough, maybe some day…

That’s the kind of paranoid mess of a people we’re talking about here. And yes I can get away with it because I used to be one myself…so don’t call me a jerk, you jerk :p

It’s usually those that find some kind of mental gymnastic to discount other types of christians over the most minute details. Even to the point of shouting apostacy over something as superfluos as beeing post or pre trib (as someone who leans more toward preterism I have to laugh at both of these :p).

And I could easely say “see? they don’t believe it the right way so they’re not saved, they’re just invested in something dead” but I tend to not do that. Because I’ve learned, come to realise, been thaught, allowed myself to learn, whatever you want to call it, a certain degree of subjectivism. (yes I watch heart of the matter eagerly)

And yet… theres this thought lingering in me lately.

When you go through the expierience of beeing invested in the charismatic with all of it’s weird beliefs and practices, theres two things going on in your mind.

One side wants to see how deep the rabbit hole goes, every question that rises up becomes just another trap or riddle from the devil trying to put you of course from your divine quest with God.
The further you digg the more you find desperation, paranoia, …but there will always be enough christians around you to motivate and encourage you to keep going the direction you are assuring you that’s just how it’s suposed to be.

The other side constantly wonders, what am I doing with my life? Is this new introduced element of beliefs really worth giving up everything you’re giving up? And what ridiculous beliefs they are, are we really going to hold onto these? This side starts noticing that church has either young people that are awkward and just as confused as you are or old people that are bitter and just have given up. God has defeated them so they just go allong with the flow of the church institution taking contentment with the few good things they have been allowed by the community. Because when push comes to shove if they don’t want you to smoke and drink, by golly you’ll give it up or get pushed out of the door but there will be tension until either one happends.

Now as far as I know people usually end up on either side of these two and tend to stay there for the majority of their lives. And it doesn’t even have to be the diffirence between beeing a theist or an atheist. That’s not the diffirence I’m talking about because as far as I’ve contemplated and learned this stuff I know now that this can get as diverse and unique as your individuality. Well an obvious follow up to this would be ofcourse, it’s a part of your individuality.

But I do make this verry crude and basic distinction, people that are okay with the church institution, it’s aspirations and demands and those that can’t find peace with it. Not that I’m any form of authority on the matter mind you. And to be clear I do mean church the institution and system. Not the body of believers or so called bride of Christ. The first one beeing a verry tangible idea in our reality, I’d venture to say it’s a practical matter but having lived among one I can say it’s anything but practical. The second one beeing more of a theological idea, more filosofical in nature I guess.

Now back to apostacy, I do notice this tendency that pro organised church people throw the apostacy card around a lot more towards the other camp than visa versa. In other words you’ll far quicker hear that old grumpy conservative christian say “that hippie can not be saved even if he says he loves Jesus” compared to that verry hippie who probably has a more laid back attitude toward other lifestyles and worldviews.

But today the hippie bites back. Yes I’m in a bit of a flower power mood myself lately.

Of all the charismatic practices, be it speaking in tongues, excesive prayer meetings, jerking around uncontrollably on the ground, prophecy, “healing” , driving out demons,…and so on and so on. It kind of hit me that the people who hold fast onto these things, including me back when I hold onto these forms of faith, have a layer of them,…that might in fact be apostate about it.

Take this basic example, the wheelchair patient that shows up at a charismatic gathering.
Now all the young and excited people there would love nothing more then for that guy to get healed and start walking and jumping around again. As do I still! Anybody would love that to happen regardless of their worldview or faith. But we all have to admit, it rarely happends. In fact I’m pretty sure most of the stories you hear about these instances are made up. And the instances where it did actually happen are extreeeemely far and in between. I think of the storie where a soldier in a wheelchair during war got out of his chair to run away from an imminent explosion. His mind was that strongly set on getting out of there it actually managed to activate his leggs. Amazing, but also believable.

Now the other stories about where some faith healer did his magic prayer or whatever, I take those with a moved-mountain sized lump of salt.

People who stand behind faith healing however, they tend to believe more stories then they discount in this area. And sadly it takes it’s toll after the years. It creates this blind faith that becomes mind over matter after a while. Or a flat out refusal to accept reality when it’s staring them in the face.

Just like the refusal that speaking in tongues might just be a bunch of noise. Refuting the idea that not everything needs a prayer meeting in front of it. The idea that, most prophecies are just flat out cold readings…

And verry far in the back of their head is this little voice that says “listen, all this stuff might be unnecessary. Which for them immediatly gets labeled and hammered back as the voice of satan because they’ve have that hammered in so hard. But I wonder though, that deep down, they know it’s the voice of reason …or might even call it the voice of God in some way…but they refuse it because they’re afraid of it. Or on one side they don’t actually believe most of the stuff they tell themselves that they do…they’re afraid of admitting it too themselves because they’re in too deep.

And that might be by itself a form of apostacy.

Bam!

Now that said, I don’t discount their basic beliefs in God and Jesus and whatnot, but there is something to be said about the more detailed matters.

This is angryfishguy singing out saying
Act natural, you have no idea how super it can be!

Warning about the warning.

bible-reading-can-be-habit-forming1

Ain’t that wonderfull news?

Nope.

And here’s why. Because it’s unrealistic. Sure theres this idea in christianity based on scripture that, when you read the bible you are drawing closer to God and God closer to you. And to a certain extent I guess you could say that’s true, seeking God can start or take place in the bible.
But please don’t pretend that it’ll be a happy clappy joyride. That’s a lie from modern christianity that is about a big of a lie like the next date some whackjob church sets for the rapture to happen.

Reading the bible can be traumatising for a believer, or even a non believer. If you read the account of genesis all the way through and think everything that happends in there is glorious joy unto the Lord…wow are you some kind of psychopath?

Don’t you just get furious at parts where God just wipes out an entire people just because? Doesn’t that at the verry least raise some questions? What about Noah, who puts a curse on his grandson for what one of his sons did? Don’t you at least feel like Noah, God’s chosen, is beeing a bit of a jerk there?

Regardles of where you stand on God’s sovereign will or intention behind his actions in these passages. You owe it to your human nature (which is after all, made in the image of God as the bible says) to atleast aknowledge feeling of regret and pain towards those who perish in the bible.

When I read about the flood, how God wiped out everything because he regretted making mankind. I feel angry. I feel angry because they didn’t get the Jesus passcard. I feel angry because somehow God is giving us a go while they didn’t. Yes that may be verry unchristian of me, but it’s honest.

It’s more honest then the people who pretend like God is good all the time. And somehow that idea by itself is a reason to celebrate everything that happends regardless of what our real emotions tell us.

It’s more honest then rejoicing in God’s vengeance or wrathfull hand, trying to somehow justify ourselves beeing alive and “on God’s side” while they aren’t. As if we get to cheer God on as he slays the wicked and lets us live because we are suposidly better then they were. We’re not, never were, never will be. At the end of the day, if you take the christian setting for what it is in general, you’re done for if it’s not for the grace that is Jesus his sacrifice. Let alone taking slight diffirentiations on that premise: open theism, universalism, …yeah I know a few fancy words don’t I?

The reason I write this is too set some balance for pictures like the one above. Yes there may be a God like the one described in the bible, currently I believe that the bible shows little bits and pieces of something we can’t grasp. And it verry well may be the most correct one (taking into account history/translation/culture/…) But don’t take my word for it, walk your path in life. I don’t want you to feel betrayed because of what I told you to believe. All I can do is tell you that beeing a theist, can have marvelous moments, but it can also be devastating. It can do serious harm. It’s not all butterlys and strawberries. Anyone who tells you that is either a serious liar or just hasn’t lived yet.

Please christians, stop pretending that beeing on our side is the best just to get more people on board. People are dead tired of that kind of advertising.

I dare you to be honest.