Part 1 ; Part 2 ; Part 3
Now to take my spiritual journey to the present day. My apologies for how heavy the last post was, as it was a difficult period of my life. I’ll start with a renewed interest in Judaism, this time listening to Jewish podcasts. What this Goy(Gentile) heard on the podcasts was exactly what I needed. I was able to dream again, that God is not a dictatorial taskmaster. I was inspired by the idea that there is something that each person can do(only them), that even if you make a wrong turn God can still guide you to your destination. This also helped me get past the fear Jesus would return before I got married — I have a mission to fulfill first.
It was about this time the church started a massive building project, due to a dogma that there was going to be a massive economic collapse, that the government was going to start persecuting Real True Christians(TM), we heard of people who claimed to talk with Illuminists(the predictions NEVER came true). One prediction was that Obama would declare martial law and send Real True Christians(TM, who stayed faithful opposing interfaith and same sex marriage, whereas the others are the Deceived[TM)], the Apostates[TM], the Compromisers[TM]) to FEMA concentration camps. Also there were going to be trains with guillotines to decapitate said Real True Christians(TM).
Religion and Ethics did a report on the efforts of the Mormon Church to help Mormon singles find mates, as they encourage marriage(something that was discouraged in my environment). This kindled an interest in LDS. I listened to Mormon podcasts(including parts of the Book of Mormon). I also listened to atheist podcasts, trying to see if I could respond to their arguments. I kinda liked their sticking-it-to-the-man as well. I kept this very quiet. I only listened to the podcasts at home, I immediately deleted the podcasts from my i-tunes library upon putting them on my i-pod. If I was going to be with anyone I made sure to delete the podcasts from my i-pod as well.
In the midst of this the church became enamored of a hardcore Fundamentalist conspiracy theorist, who talked about giants(claiming the Smithsonian covered up any evidence of this or anything contradicting evolution, because they don’t want to admit the truth of the Bible), identifying aliens with demons, claiming that Obama was going to bring in Russian and Chinese troops to take people’s guns, and anyone who revealed who guns is a traitor and going to be killed. The guy thinks social media is a way for the government to monitor people (after he said this people were asked from the pulpit to get off Facebook).
Then suddenly our pastor(who I considered a trusted confidant) had a stroke. We had for a short time a surge of unity. Things ground to a halt while waited for a recovery. We shared dreams of his recovery.
For me a couple of things happened: I read a book on Muslims who converted to Christianity and saw a faith I was impressed with, as opposed to what I saw in my own church. For example a man in Bangladesh was reaching out to help drug addicts, who are reviled even by secular society. A Palestinian reached out in friendship to Israelis. These stories impressed me, and further weakened my anger towards God and helped in my religious crisis.
On the other hand I also felt God was just a heavenly dictator who imposed arbitrary rules and burned those who wouldn’t comply. Another issue was a lot of End-Times stuff with all the conspiracy theories. In Dispensationalism it’s taught that during the Tribulation the Antichrist will make everyone accept a mark in order to buy and sell, but God will burn in hell anyone who takes the mark. I heard people express concern people would cave merely in order to feed their families. For me I thought any god who would torture someone merely for feeding their family because of a freaking mark and arbitrarily refuse to forgive them but forgive people for child molestation or genocide was a jerk who had his priorities off. And I didn’t care who thought that was arrogant or whose feelings were hurt.(I didn’t say it publicly though.) Also during this time I became a bit of a smart aleck and was proud of it, as I saw taboos against this as hopelessly antiquated and a violation of human rights(the same with taboos against rebellion, even thinking the taboo was just set in place by power-hungry people wanting control).
However at the same time I heard talk that my friends were frustrated over the same issues, like the low wages. One friend even brought it up to church leaders; he was told they’d look into it, and not to get into Korah.(Something that didn’t make people happy.) My one friend explained they aren’t trying to do a coup d’etat but just reform. He explained that the guys were reading their Bibles even more, and it was through this that they started questioning the system. I also started mentioning some of the things that had been on my mind for years. One friend mentioned his loss of vision, which I, too, felt. I started rereading books that had inspired me years back(a few I mentioned in part 2). Some things got reformed, but one of my friends moved away. He dropped me off at shop, got in his van, and moved away.
At this time the old prosperity teachings encouraged me that God does not require that I remain poor.(I read a book by a pastor in South Korea.) I saw a Muslim video podcast in which a cleric said Muslims need to show people how Islam is relevant and he gave examples. I found that inspiring for something to do with Christianity. Also, I was about to turn 30, the age in which Jesus began His ministry. Knowing this and that 30 was a milestone year, I was looking forward to this. Interestingly a week before my 30th birthday I got a smartphone and an email address. I got a tablet for my 30th birthday(March 2015) and got a Twitter account at the end of April. I actually got to interact with people of different religious beliefs, rather than just listening to or reading their stuff. I learned for the first time about Religious Trauma Syndrome(RTS), and found blogs and accounts of people burned by purity culture and Fundamentalism in general. For the first time I learned about spiritual abuse(something I don’t consider myself a victim of, though I recognize things were messed up). I appreciate all the people on Twitter who follow me, allow me to follow them, who have influenced my thoughts.
Why do I share this? To tell my story. When other people told their stories it allowed me to compare/contrast my own. I’m still trying to process my own experiences. One passage I reflected on a lot for turning 30 is Isaiah 61:1-4 . Recently I also reflected on 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 . That is why I share this story; I find others’ stories helpful, thus I share my own, as a way of saying, “Me too”; two words that, according to Anne Lamott, are the most powerful sermon in the world.
Part 1 ; Part 2 ; Part 3