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March 5, 2014

The Really Hard Part – Part 1

Since the passing of my best friend, I’ve been at odds with my faith. Forget Theodicy, I’m not interested in playing that game, rather I’m stepping back and taking another look at everything that I’ve learned.

It’s hard not to be somewhat jaded by what I see, I am after all a creation of my past experiences, and no matter how hard I want to let them go, they are part of my fabric now.

I read a blog post from a young man who grew up in the Baptist Faith, and who’s family fell into the trap of us versus the world mentality. No movies, no television, only church music, you could only read the bible, everything out there led to hell. The family adopted a very plain lifestyle, and lived a sheltered life, in fear of everything being tainted. It finally led the young man to try suicide out of utter despair, which was then of course blamed on his lack of faith (which in my opinion is pretty close to one of the most evil things you can say or do, especially to young people who you have trapped in your stupid moralistic worldview). In fact he said something in the article that struck a nerve with me, “if you would just let God break your heart, you could get past all this”. I heard that line for years, and yet no one could really explain it to me in a way that made any kind of sense. After his suicide he gave up on his faith, and is now asking questions about the possible non-existence of God, and looking to finding the truth of the matter, no matter the cost. I not only felt for his position, but wanted to encourage him, not to go back to church, but to keep digging until he found what he was looking for, because at least he’s taking an honest look at the issue. And the answer, theistic or not, is something he wrestled with.

Michelle and I spent the entire holiday season at home, we did not enter the doors of a church once (and still haven’t). Not that I’m mad at anyone, or the Church, it’s not that at all. Rather, I don’t know if I believe anymore in Church, in ceremony, in prayer, in any of it. I’ve wanted to reach out more than once and discuss all this, but I’m not sure our priest is open to a brutally honest conversation about this, and in point of fact there are only two people I know who I can talk to about it.

I guess in the long run, I’m just not sure *I’m* ready to have that conversation yet.

The hurt runs so deep now, and the questions remain largely unanswered, that I feel unable to bring myself around to dealing with them. On top of that, Michelle and I are still going through changes, nothing from the last year has been fully settled so that adds to the unease.

None of this is to say I’m looking at atheism, that’s a road I have no interest in going down, I think it’s intellectually a bad proposition. In many ways the Atheist of today are really no different than the Theist, neither side has conclusive evidence, and all they do is argue all day.

For myself theism is the only viable answer, there are simply too many factors to ignore and declare that there is no God. However,  I’ve been on a long slide to being Agnostic, meaning that I’m not sure *anyone* has the right of it any longer, including the ancient faiths. While I reject the tenants of modern day evangelicalism and the protestant movement, I still think that some of their questions and concerns about the Ancient faiths have merit, and on that alone I can’t simply dismiss everything they say. On the other hand, while I think tradition is important, I’ve too often run into situations where tradition equals or in some cases overrules scripture.

But given my theistic leanings, the role of theodicy is almost inescapable. The world is hardly a fair place, in fact it’s rather brutal at the best of times. I read and article today about children being beheaded in the war between Muslims and Christians, one of my co-workers just found out that his wife has a very aggressive and fatal form of cancer, denying them any hope at a long marriage. Our own government who was supposed to protect our freedoms, is now run by crooks, con artists, and power hungry thieves. Their greatest gift to us this year is a completely botched health care system, that if not addressed soon will begin to take innocent lives, and even with form of evil on our doorsteps, they continue to push on as if nothing bad is happening. It would be easier to deal with if there was even a shred of honesty in our elected officials, but there’s not, and especially this president who doesn’t seem to understand what truth is.

I’ll be honest and tell you that if given the option, I would move my family to a remote island, arm up and let the rest of world rot away in their filth and hatred. Look at what we have done not only to the planet, but to each other. We look back on ancient times and consider them so barbaric, but we have people today who are beheading children because they hold a different religious belief. In my own lifetime there have been wars, genocide, atrocities that boggle the mind.

And now we have a new evil coming in play, the next generation is only concerned with the fairness of everything, damn the consequences, or the lessons of history, it has to be FAIR. Because why can’t someone working at McDonalds or Wal Mart make as much as someone who is getting paid more for a much more technical job?, ignoring the fact that in my own career I spent literally half my life learning my craft, and honing my skills, and my pay scale reflects those efforts. Certainly I had some opportunities, but I also worked menial jobs, I cleaned toilets, washed dishes, scrubbed floors. Nothing was given to me for free, I put in long hours and sacrificed time with my loved ones to build my career. So how is it fair if I get paid less for what I do? or if someone who has little or no skillset gets paid the same as I’m making, that’s not a sustainable model, and anyone with a brain knows that.

Why are they so driven to make things fair?, well partly because the previous generations let them down, we promised a world of modern answers, and then walked away. I’ve long held the opinion that the Church modern has made more atheists than any atheist group could hope to recruit, because on our stages, with all the lights and powerpoints, the struggle of faith cannot be tolerated. There is upcoming a debate between Bill Nigh the Science Guy, and Ken Ham the creationist wackoid, who wants to take the book of Genesis as literal science. Guess who’s going to win that little contest of stupidity? (I’ll give you a hint, it’s not going to be anyone holding up a bible as their source text). Although I don’t really care for Nigh, and find that he’s as religious about science as any modern preacher, Ham is fundamentally arguing the wrong point before the debate even starts, he simply has no chance of winning.

I”m tired of it all, I’m sick of the church and the poison that it has been spreading through the world. There is some good, I’m not going to deny it, but for every good, there is just as much hate, evil and fear generated by good church going people. We’ve taken the Gospel and twisted it into an abusive form of subjugation for anyone who dares disagree with our tightly held views (especially anyone who is GAY!! (Gasp)). There’s a saying in my line of work, that we talk globally, but act locally. The same can be said of our religious institutions, we talk about love and obedience to God, but instead we honor conformity to the status quo.

That is partly the influence of man, but I can’t help but wonder on the other part if God has just taken his hands out of the mess, or if free will is really a terrible gift? It’s a question I no longer am sure I can answer…

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