So here it is, folks. Another post about God.

More specifically, a post about God and why his peeps sometimes annoy me.

Okay, I'm going to start this out with an earth-shattering confession...

I don't wanna be a Christian. I don't want to serve God. I don't want to wait breathlessly on his plan for my life. I inwardly cringe when I catch mention of the phrase "God's will" (for your life, for this or that, etc.). I try to avoid talking about religion or God with anyone I don't emphatically know is either a heathen, a pagan, or an atheist/agnostic. (There are, of course, a few exceptions... but they're pretty few and far between.)

Why, you ask?

Because Christians have been given the gospel. And the gospel is all about telling people about God, and going forth, and all that jazz... so when you're having a conversation about God, the near-inevitable outcome is that the gospel rises within them and they go forth to your brain and your opinions and your worldview and proceed to try to get you around to their way of thinking, somehow.

I was there once. I know how this game is played. And now that I'm on the other side of the net? I wish I'd never done that to people.

Seriously. I have so. much. regret. about my canvassing days and the post-SOULS years. So much guilt and embarrassment. Why, oh why, did I do those things to people?

Well, I didn't know any better. I was trained to do that. And I desperately wanted acceptance, approval, and a spot in the world. Oh, and I wanted God to like me.

E says my understanding of Christianity is warped. I say fine. Then I don't feel so bad laying it down and trying to figure out what's real.

I'm not trying to justify my choices at all. I fully acknowledge that a great many people who are or have at one time been invested in my life to a high degree would be disappointed, crushed, heartbroken, or any combination of negative adjectives upon hearing this. But it's not about other people, is it? No, not at all.

It's not just that I have anger issues with God. I fully acknowledge that one, as well. It's more than that, though...

A friend told me not to terribly long ago that I'm a very accepting person, very open, and it's true. As black and white as my thinking tends to be, I have a hard time seeing the world around me in strictly blacks and whites. The claim of exclusive truth always felt off to me, and I resent the implications that exclusive truth brings. (Namely, that everyone else is wrong!)

I was walking and praying, probably about this time last year, and puzzling over church, God, my involvement with the two... my heart... my brain... my questions... and then I walked under this tree. And I had an epiphany of sorts.

What if God is a tree? I mean, what if God is the trunk, and all those branches are the different religions or worldviews or whatever? (Keep in mind that I'd just been learning about learning styles in a class of mine.) What if each soul has a particular "learning style", and they gravitate toward the branch that will teach them who God is most clearly? For some, that may be Adventism. For others, that may be Islam. For yet others, that may be Wicca. But each soul learns about who God really is, just through different means.

It made a lot of sense to me. Despite my rigid adherence to SDAism for so many years, I naturally gravitate towards the faiths that find their understanding more in the natural world, through rituals, and through the world around them.

Don't get me wrong-- I totally believe in Intelligent Design. I believe in a Creator. I just realize that I don't know diddly squat about him, and the God that I've been interacting with all these years could very well be a figment of my imagination because he's not like how I've imagined him to be at all and I've just been projecting things onto him... which means that the God I know could be, for all intents and purposes, all in my head.

Do I believe that God inspired the writing of the Bible? Assuredly. Do I believe that it's inerrant? In intent, yes. There are contradictions within the pages of the Bible, both in details and in more philosophical aspects (like God's split personality, for one), and anyone who denies this is really, really living in la-la-land. Even the ABC has books about reconciling the "apparent" contradictions in the Bible. They're there.

Do I believe that the Bible is the only literature God ever inspired? No. I do not.

See, I've had questions for a long time... questions that I've never fully articulated or examined, because I knew that my faith wasn't up to the test. One of the reasons I hated going door to door was that I couldn't stand pushing stuff on people that I didn't fully or really believe myself. I ran across two quotations that really challenged me, though, and disturbed my placid pool of Christianity deeply.

The first is by Epicurus, and is pretty famous. (They're both pretty famous, actually.) It goes like this:
"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"

That pretty well sums up why I'm so angry and yes, even somewhat bitter, with God. He could have stopped my molestation and abuse. But he didn't. Didn't he want to? Did he just not see what was happening? Did he not care?

I've gotten the standard Adventist answer about the Great Controversy more times than I can count, and I've handed it out more times than I can count. I've even tried really hard to believe it, and I do sometimes. But it just doesn't satisfy my deep need for a God that cares. Yes, I know. Jesus. Right. Please, I went to Bible college, I've got this down. But that's God caring about humanity. Where's the God that cares about the toddler that was placed in a hot oven that seared her back? Where's the God that cares about the same toddler, locked in a cold bath with ice cubes until her lips were blue and laughed at by her mom's jealous, abusive boyfriend? Where's the God that cares about the skinny child with large bloody bruises across her buttocks and legs from being beat with a leather belt because she interrupted her step-dad's video game? Where's the God that cares about that child as she slept on blankets in the hallway to avoid being alone in her room at night, only to have her abuser join her in plain sight and work his hand between her legs, or spill his semen all over her blankets?

Where's the God that's going to do anything about all that shit? I'm just getting started on the tragic experiences, you know.

Where's the God that listened to the cries and prayers of that girl who believed in him so fervently, who believed all that talk about just asking Jesus and he'd come make everything better? (It's a bunch of b.s., by the way. Just praying to Jesus doesn't make anything better, despite what you hear in Sabbath school. He may be there with you, but he's a pretty passive bystander.)

And shoot, that's just my story. What about the little girl in H who was being raped by her dad and brothers, who prayed and prayed for God to help her, and even made sure to describe how to get to her house after time had passed and he hadn't stopped them? What about the story in Angels Among Us where God sends an angel to keep that little girl from being molested? WTF, God? Really? You're gonna jump in for her, but not for me, or for my girls in group, or for the other countless children that are being beaten, starved, or molested?

I'm sorry, but I'm not content to sit around accept this absent father God anymore.

Did you know that I realized I'm a quasi-Buddhist recently? I stumbled across this Q&A about Buddhism that was really, really well written, and I realized while going through it that I believed a lot of the same things they do. In this last year of searching and thinking and praying, I've developed a lot of beliefs and come to a lot of conclusions that Buddhism has been espousing for thousands of years. Funny, huh? The big, huge difference is that Buddhists do not believe that gods exist, whereas I do. So I can't be entirely Buddhist, but I definitely embrace most of their philosophies. That's pretty much the path I'm taking at this point.

Here's the other quote that shook me up so deeply. This one is from Marcus Aurelius.
“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

That's kind of where I'm at at this point.

I'm tired. I'm tired of performing. Tired of trying to make it work. Tired of trying to be "right"... Should being right be this hard? I mean, if it's right... should it not be at least a little self-evident?

And the thing is... I really can't tell any of this to Christians, because it's appalling to them. It's abhorrent. Especially because I was once one of the elite, a shining star, an example to the other youth and an encouragement to the older generations.

How the mighty have fallen. Heh.

Again, it's not about other people. It's really not. It's about me doing what I perceive to be the best and most right thing... right now.

I am in no way claiming that this is not all subject to change, because it totally is. I could change my mind tomorrow! But that's the beauty of free will, and religious freedom. I have the choice to change my mind.

I just wish that people would accept that, stop trying to change my mind, stop being all disappointed and pouty when the realize I don't believe as they do anymore, stop being threatened by my choices... and just let me be. 

Please. Just let me be. Let me make my own choices. Stop trying to change my mind. I'm not doing this purposely to screw with you, you know. I'm trying to find my way through life, just like everyone else... Except that I don't derive my power to be happy, optimistic, productive, or even functional from God. It's inside me, where it's always been. It was only after realizing that I'm the one that's been doing all the work that I felt free. It's been me that's worked on myself, me that has healed, me that has taken risks and accepted challenges and made mistakes and been a good person. (Granted, a lot of times I was a good person out of fear of what would happen if I wasn't, but it was still me.)

Maybe God uses the strength I have inside myself to get stuff done. Maybe God uses the people around me to lift me up and speak words of life that encourage and inspire me. But I'm done with the image that he's camped out in a tent somewhere inside me with an assortment of factories that he uses to produce various things like goodness, strength, etc.

Anyway, I've probably gone on enough of a bitter diatribe here to last for a good, long time.

But before I quit, I do want to address one more thing that really, really bothers me. 

I am marrying an atheist. It's true.

However, please refrain from the following sentence when you talk about him:

"He's a really good guy, but..."

Yes, the "but" refers to his atheism. It's like all the virtues, all the good qualities, all the responsible behaviors and solid choices and the moral nature are all canceled out by the fact that he doesn't believe in God. That he had questions that were never satisfactorily answered by religion or the Bible. That he saw contradictions and hypocrisy and wanted nothing to do with it. That he was burned by Christians themselves, judged and dismissed because they knew one thing about him that they didn't agree with. 

And I've gotten the "but", too, in regards to my choices.

You're a good person, but you can't actually be considered a good person, because of this. I'm sorry. You fail the morality test. Sure, you got every other question right, but those actually don't count for anything. It's this one that determines whether you pass or fail. (Because really... if a Christian is a bad person or makes a bad choice, well, God can forgive anything, right? And they probably weren't really a Christian to begin with. But if an atheist or some other religion is a bad person or makes a bad choice, well, see? Those amoral hooligans just can't do anything else. They've given in to the carnal nature, and the carnal nature is emnity against God. Yep. It just stands to reason.)

No more "but"s.

I'm a good person. I have been a good person. And I will continue to be a good person.

Whether that's as a Christian, as a quasi-Buddhist, as a Wiccan, or as an atheist, I will still be a good person. Who I am is not what God I believe in, or how I choose to worship him.

So no more "but"s, okay? And I promise to try to be more tolerant of Christians and not roll my eyes so much.

Deal? :)

7 thoughts:

  • Optimistic Existentialist | March 15, 2013 at 5:13 AM

    Love this post and I agree with it on so many levels!! I think we concentrate too much on "religion" rather then the type of person someone is...

  • Invictus | March 15, 2013 at 9:57 AM

    Glad you agree! At least there's one person who won't be reaching for the stones lol

  • so_shedances | May 29, 2013 at 12:41 AM

    I loved all your posts about God. What happened?

  • Gwendolyn Cross | May 29, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    Hello, I read your blog and really concern about u. I have been through abuse both physically and sexually. I would love to talk to u more. I am a Christian and am very happy with my faith. I understand what u going through with yr faith but maybe I can give u some insight.


  • Cassandra | May 30, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    Hi Gwen. I am interested in hearing your perspective, especially as an abuse survivor, but please don't come at this with the intention of "converting" me. I have no desire to be converted, though I am interested to hear what you have to say. Thank you for reading and commenting :)

  • Cassandra | May 30, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    Thanks. I'm glad someone likes them :) What happened? There's a lot in those depths that I haven't plumbed, but... I just don't have the emotional energy to face it right now. I've been thinking about it though. So you're a catalyst. Congrats! lol

  • Gwendolyn Cross | May 30, 2013 at 4:48 PM

    I am not trying to convert you. I cant do that within myself anyway. If that happens, it wont be me. Its God working through me. But,all I can tell u that I was kidnapped and was physically abused by her. Then, when I did find my family, I was sexually abused by a family member. My story will take forever to tell. But, I know If I would not have given my life to God at a early age, my life would have turned out differently. From yr blogs, I can tell u r angry at God and very confused. I am here just to talk.

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