Tag Archives: prayer

…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.

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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.

#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.)

Come and take a swim part 7

It’s been a while again huh, lets get right at it!

(before you read this episode make ABSOLUTLY sure you’ve read episode 6 first)

So we took off to germany for a weekend of metal. After a long drive that included some traffic jams we finally got there. It was a festival on the side of a hill in a green area, it was magnificent. We hung around talked the usual talk that slightly tipsy guys at a festival talk about. And we just had a blast, I got to see Nightwish there during their last year with the original singer, kind of a novelty memory even if I’m not really into that sort of music anymore. That and destruction, gravedigger, children of bodom,..man it was a killer line up!

Regardless, as the day passed we got more drunk and rowdy. I remember me and one of the guys taking a leak on boxes of merchandise, stealing keggs of beer, chasing skirts,…you name it. We deserved to be kicked out, but they didn’t.

I remember walking around on that festival with one thing on my mind, my ex girlfriend. It angered me that she was moving on (and how) while I wasn’t. It made me feel like I lost. Not to her so much even but to myself. In my mind back then you weren’t a man unless you had a girlfriend. And I wanted to prove to the whole world that I had “it”. That so called manlyness you see portrayed in series like knightrider and miami vice…”what do you have against the 80’s?” no no, not that, heck I still match Macguyver occasionally :). No what I mean is that one transition scene they put in every other episode. It kind of goes like this: A rising sun, cut to a house, appartement, or wherever our protagonist was staying. He walks out the door, jawning while buckling his belt…jup, another one nighter, high five for our hero! 

Or that was atleast how I felt, I felt challenged by todays culture to conquer women. And heck, as long as they wouldn’t be faithfull and loyal to me…why would I bother persuing a serious relationship right? There goes something through a young mans mind the time his first “serious” girlfriend leaves him for other men. “You’re not good enough, you’re boring, you’re unwanted, and you’ll die alone”. Now add to that she left him for his best friend and you have a dangerous mixture.

I was determined to go home victorious. So one thing led to another and I hit jackpot pretty fast. I barely knew her name, I was pretty buzzed and we went “for a walk”. Afterwards I was in for a dissapointment as it was a shortlived victory, she abandoned me somewhere in the crowd…I was so naive back then.

I couldn’t find my friends so I decided to go for a walk…and suddenly it hit me. If she made no fuss about “going at it” with me that easely, she probably did with other guys as wel… not only that…what if I had some horrible disease from her? Fear struck me and that wasn’t all… suddenly I noticed near the entrance of the festival…

a gasstation

Now I wasn’t just a little nervous…now I was pretty close to pooping my pants. Because this wasn’t just any gasstation…this was the exact same one as I saw in my dream. The placement and number of the pumps, the colour, the lolipop display on the corner of the first magazine stand on the left…

I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to think.

Then followed a period of time where I was angry at God. I’d shout at him, “why did you let this happen?”, “heal me you bastard!”,…it was getting to my head so much I was actually convinced I was going to die.

Then one day I decided to just make the confrontation. I bought a pack of cigars, took a walk in the woods, sat on a bench, lit one up and started talking to God. “If you really must kill me and send me to hell, atleast let me make one album that I can leave my mark on this world. Something for people to remember me by”. I don’t even remember what I said about if I would live, but if I did I probably would have made a commitment to him of some sort…maybe I didn’t, I don’t know anymore.

So I took off to get my blood tested and whatnot. In this time I got even more nervous, mind you I was still an angsty teenager, you don’t talk about that stuff with your parents at that age. Atleast I didn’t. They eventually kind of found out half and half but I didn’t give them the full story. My nervous and depressing behaviour gave me away.

Then one day me and my parents were at a mall, it gave me a moment to get my mind out of my depressing darkness. And just as we walked in (I still remember exactly where) I got the phonecall from the doctor.

“Hi, we just got the results back and …it’s all clear. Nothing to worry about”.

I could have jumped through the roof at that moment. But I didn’t because I knew if I did I had to explain that phonecall to my parents. So I tried to conceal my joy, but it was hard to.

 

We’ll leave it at that for now 🙂

In case you’re wondering, “wow this guy must have feared his parents a lot”. Yes I did in a way, but that was my own doing somehow I developped a twisted view of them, I have the best parents I could ever wish for and they always looked out for me the best they could.They both have worked incredibly hard to raise me and my sister and they’ve put up with a lot of crap from both of us throughout the years.

I’m a gratefull man and I’m glad to say that as I grew up I started sharing a lot more with my parents. Here’s to you Mom and Dad if you ever read this, I love you both.