Christian Girls Who Say Sh*tuff

Hi.

Come here often?

I do, but I’m new to contributing.

I’m Mary.

Mary DeJesus.

A quick bit about me before we move on to more exciting things.

  1. I consider myself a Christian in the sense that I follow the teachings of Jesus, do believe he is the son of God and was the ultimate sacrifice for brokenness on the earth.
  2. I do realize how absolutely insane that sounds, but I believe it.
  3. I’m also intensely overwhelmed with how the “Christian Image” is portrayed in modern culture. While I am an extremely open-minded individual and try loving everyone, try understanding everyone, and definitely respecting everyone, I often have the most difficult time doing that within my own faith community.
  4. I’m here to talk about real questions that go through my head. Real criticisms I have and maybe (maybe) blow the whistle on some serious stuff that just isn’t right within the Christian community.
  5. With that said, people who know me could call me on my own mistakes and flaws. Nobody is perfect. I don’t pretend to be. That’s where the issue comes in. (Hypocrisy much?)
  6. I’m a responsible and intelligent adult. Because of my job in the Jesus industry, I’ve met most of the “famous” Christians out there. A couple of them may have even tried to get in my pants. And no, I’m not kidding.

So, hi. Nice to meet you.

Let’s move on to other things, shall we?

I saw this video, “Sh*tuff Christian Girls Say” on Facebook yesterday, and Hemant emailed me the link the other night, asking, what does this say about Christianity and women?

Here’s my play by play.

“God is leading me to break up with you.”

OHmyWORD.

As much as I hate that there is yet another parody in the “Shit ____ Say” series, this is likely the most common phrase spoken by unmarried Christians. I have never said it to anyone before, but I kid you not: the last guy I seriously dated pulled this out of his escape bag the day after he said he was my best friend and was always thinking about me being his potential future wife.

I could probably write an essay on how God is the Christian’s best cop-out for when we don’t want to hurt someone else. In the codependent lineup, he’s The Scapegoat. I mean, who’s to argue with what God is “leading” someone to do?

Back to the video.

“I’m just ready for my Boaz… Where’s my Samson to tear down the pillars of my loneliness?”

To clarify, these are two men in the Old Testament. Boaz was a rescuer to a mother and her widowed daughter-in-law (eventually marrying the DIL, Ruth). Samson is a super strong guy in the Old Testament who tears down buildings and reveals the source of his strength to a woman who betrays him. Hot.

She continues making references to Biblical characters (Jezebel, Esther, Potiphar’s Wife, and Sarah…to begin). Then, off to the pop-culture races we go.

Maybe you’ve heard about the mid-nineties book sensation “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” which asks readers to turn away from the painful dating scene and let God work.

From Amazon:

I Kissed Dating Goodbye shows what it means to entrust your love life to God. Joshua Harris shares his story of giving up dating and discovering that God has something even better — a life of sincere love, true purity, and purposeful singleness.

(Spoiler: It should be noted Harris got married shortly after the book’s release to the girl he was “courting” and, yes, they are still married today and even wrote a book together.)

A few more Christanese references later and our sweet hero(ine) is off encouraging others with her Spirit-filled lovey dovey words. On Twitter. Hashtag #Boom.

I give this little video four stars for its accuracy. If you’ve ever spent anytime in the Bible Belt, drop in any coffeehouse and I assure you 75% of the time you will hear at least three lines from this video.

But you won’t hear them from me.

I’m assuming I’m not the only person who thinks this video is a great example of how sheltered, isolated, and out of touch people in the Jesus Bubble can be. Even as a single Christian girl, I had to Google a few things, and I lived my life in the center of The Bubble. When I’ve heard these conversations take place in my own cafe-Bible-reading-journal-sessions (I kid…I do those things at home), I’ve often wanted to walk up and ask these girls if THEY even know what they’re saying.

“So, you want a Sampson? You want a strong hottie who gives in to a girl and loses all of his power? How romantic. And really? You’re enthralled? Who says that word? And that album is ‘anointed?’ Show me your iTunes playlist and I can point out almost every Christian artist and tell you about how this one singer slept with the drummer’s wife and broke up the band and how this other band doesn’t even really believe in God and how I saw the guy that wrote all those worship songs you think are so ‘filled with the spirit’ passed out drunk at the airport when I was on vacation. That ‘anointing’ is pretty much a clever trick played by the music industry so they can manipulate your emotions and take your money.”

But, alas. I refrain.

Why?

Because I am a Christian and I have made dumb decisions and tried to use Jesus as my PR schtick. I’ve name-dropped God to get my own way, I am no better or worse than the oversexed musicians, and I’ve even been drunk in an airport like the worship leader dude.

Insert confusion and angst.

Yes, these things make me mad, but maybe because they’re only truths about myself I don’t want to accept. The deeper question for me is why don’t I want to accept them? Is this some shame-based guilt complex of just living a flawed life? Is this some high-level awareness of a socially imposed morale code? I think that tension exists in a lot of people… maybe not only in Christian girls who say Sh*tuff.

About Mary DeJesus

Mary DeJesus is a life-long church mouse (with the exception of a few years) in her thirties who lives in the upper midwest. She still goes to church (most of the time) but asks "why?" quite frequently.

Mary is an honest observer and critic of what technology and westernization has done to the evangelical community with which she associates (again, most of the time). She is a lover, not a fighter, and is choosing to not get in debates about why she believes what she believes. Discussions, yes. Debates, no. She doesn't want to unconvert, so don't try to unsave her. She will respect your beliefs and not try to convert or save you. Just offer her the same respect, okay?

She's a career student in social sciences and religion and her favorite kind of communion wine is a good Cabernet.

Mary DeJesus is not to be confused with the mother of Jesus. Or wife. Any likeness is completely coincidental.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=593675787 Glenn Davey

    Should probably ask a few more “whys?” at the bigger questions and then you won’t have to ask so many “whys?” about the ins and outs of Christian behaviour.

    Srly, “Bubble” is correct. You have no idea how accurate a label that is, even to you.

    • Mary DeJesus

      I’m aware of this…thank you for so kindly pointing it out.

  • http://twitter.com/the_ewan Ewan

    “I do realize how absolutely insane that sounds, but I believe it.”

    Yeah, that doesn’t do it. If you’re going to claim that you ‘ask “why?” quite frequently’ then you’re really going to have to answer ‘why’ as well. You know you believe this, you know you need a reason why, so spit it out already – what is your reason?

    (and I realise that with the obvious comedy name I’m possibly responding seriously to an attempted joke, but I’ll head that off by simply pointing out that it wasn’t in the least bit funny)

    • Mary DeJesus

      Maybe you’re different, but the journey to “why” for me is more important than making a decision and closing a door. I’m on here to explore things and give you a perspective from a cynic and a Christian (and yes, the two can coexist!).

      • http://twitter.com/the_ewan Ewan

        You’ve made a decision – you’ve clearly decided to identify as Christian, so presumably you’ve decided that at least the basic claims of the religion are true. One assumes that as a person that asks ‘why’, you must have had a reason for having made that decision, so this should be a very simple question – you already have a reason, what was it?

        If you weren’t ‘closing a door’ you’d be agnostic.

        • Saintmarydejesus

          The reasons why are deep and complex and can’t be summarzied on a comment. Maybe that will be a post one day in the future. And in regard to your agnostic claim, maybe someone can be both Christian and agnostic. Just a thought.

          • ReginaldJooald

            In the traditional sense of agnostic meaning “no knowledge”, yes. Theistic agnosticism is not a rational position, so many atheists would still take object with it, but it is a position that does exist and is taken by people.

          • Anonymous

            As an addendum to my above comment, I think what Ewan is pointing out is that you have already made decisions about what is true, thus “closing the door” on all other claims (eg. naturalism, Hinduism, etc). However, if you are indeed wanting to keep your “doors open”, then that means being open to things other than Christianity being true (i.e. moving towards a more agnostic position). The only question is, which door do you then go through? You chose the Christian door before, but if you are willing to genuinely examine your beliefs and the reasons behind them, you might eventually find that another door is the better choice.

      • Anonymous

        Mary, welcome to neighborhood. I hope your stay proves worthwhile for you.

        I wanted to comment on the idea that “making a decision” means “closing a door.” If I may do a little armchair analysis, what I’m hearing in that statement is anxiety related to perceived loss. This is entirely normal and common amongst those moving away from a strongly-held belief system. I’ve never been Christian, but I too have “closed the door” on a particular faith, so I know what it’s like. Over the course of about two years I nibbled away at my beliefs as they untangled in the light of reason (how many mixed metaphors was that?).

        What I found on the other side was not a closed door, but an open universe, and a mind free from irrational beliefs that distorted my perception of it. This wasn’t really due to making a decision, or at least not a single decision…I don’t think we can “decide” what we believe to be true. That’s why changing our minds about deeply held beliefs can take some time.

        That said, I think it IS worthwhile to decide to embark on the journey of finding truth. To that end, we can then decide which tools we use to test various claims put to us. If we pick good epistemological tools, like reason and empiricism, then we can at least decide which claims seem more probable than others. By “keeping the doors open” we then can allow the mind to adopt beliefs that most likely conform with reality.

        There is no rushing the loss of faith, and I hope you don’t feel too badgered by people here. But I do encourage you to learn about things like logic, cognitive biases, and related disciplines. You admit that your belief seems “absolutely insane”, but I’m curious if you understand logically why exactly it is so irrational. Again, I’m not pushing you to abandon your belief, only to adopt tools that allow you to assess your beliefs more accurately. I’m looking forward to hearing about your journey.

    • http://profiles.google.com/michael.laporte Michael La Porte

       I had a similar reaction to MDJ, but I’m sensing based on her open mindedness, that she’s actually an atheist in training and it just takes a while to shed the old skin of Jesus, Christianity and religion.  It took a while for me.  Its not easy to cast aside all of that (especially when parents, who you respect immensely, cling to it).  Its easy for those of us who are there, who have always been there, to say “come on in, the water’s fine” but we also need to realize that standing on the edge of the pool and KNOWING that the water is fine is different than making the decision to jump in, no matter how FINE the water is.

      IMO, MDJ will be next to us in the water soon enough.  Barking at her to “jump in,” though, isn’t likely to speed up the process.

      [Apologies for the unintentional baptismal symbolism.]

  • Ronlawhouston

    Oh the tension lives in all of us.  We all have a created me.  We define ourselves in ways that often causes us cognitive dissonance.  When we see things in others that we possess but don’t fit our definition of ourselves we tend to act with revulsion. 

    It’s not so much a matter of religion as it is a matter of human psychology.   Despite how special we like to feel we’re like just about everyone else.

    • Mary DeJesus

      Your latter point hits the nail on the head…thanks for your insight!

  • Eivind Kjorstad

    “God tells me to ….” is such a *monumental* cop-out, avoiding taking responsibility for your own actions that it boggles the mind.

    As an adult, you’re responsible for everything you do and say, and the responsibility does not go away if you merely point out that someone else “told you to”. Because in that choice the question just morphs into “why do you obey?”, leaving you firmly *on* the hook aslong as the person wasn’t holding a gun to your head. Absent a good answer to “why do you obey”, the justification of “God told me to” is equivalent to “just because”.

    We accepts, sometimes even expect, little children to do or abstain from things for absolutely no reason other than being told so. We expect more from adults. Except if they’re religious, offcourse.

    • Mary DeJesus

      God is telling me to say thank you for reiterating my point exactly. My tongue must have been in my cheek too far while writing that paragraph that my sarcasm was blocked from oozing.

      • Anonymous

        I think your sarcasm detector may be overly sensitive. From my reading Eivind is merely expanding on the point you made, not attacking you.

        • Mary DeJesus

          I haven’t had coffee yet. You’re likely right.

    • Anonymous

      Religious people often consider themselves little more than children. Notice how they call themselves either “God’s children” or a “flock” or “lambs” with God being their father or shepherd.

      • Mary

        We even sang a song with lyrics, “I just wanna be a sheep, baah, baah, baah, baah. I just wanna be a sheep – baah, baah, baah, bahh. Pray the Lord my soul to keep – I jut wanna be a sheep. Somehow it was a good thing to just sit there and baah as long as Jesus was our shepherd. I can’t even BELIEVE I sang that. And I was in FRONT leading the song. ROFL

    • Anonymous

      I feel like my Christian upbringing “stunted” some of my moral development in a way because the Christian environment I grew up in didn’t foster adult responsibility as a value. Sure, there was authoritarian “accountability”, but this is different than the moral responsibility of simply being an adult. It’s almost as if I learned all the ways one could “hide” from responsibility to others inside the authoritarian structure.

      • Mary

        I’m not sure if religion “stunted” my moral development as much as it just held me back. I couldn’t take credit for my good qualities (that’s prideful), so I couldn’t fully enjoy that natural good feeling that I got when I made a good choice. I also didn’t think I could be a whole person without God, so it was hard to feel truly responsible for anything I did. I was never sure how involved He was in a given situation and didn’t want to take credit for something He did.  And I was hyper-aware of my mistakes (felt like I had to know them so I could rid myself of them and ask forgiveness and be constantly “growing”).

        All of that is a big burden that holds a person down from just making good choices and feeling good about doing that. With God mixed in, I never felt in control of my life; in fact, I thought my being in control would be a horrible thing. Now, I can take responsibility for myself without feeling guilty, and I can clearly see that most of the events in my life are natural consequences of my choices. It is quite freeing not to have invisible beings doing unpredictable things in my day that may or may not have anything to do with my sins. I make my choices and live with the consequences. And when something lucky comes my way, I try to do something good with it. When bad stuff comes my way, I just try to get through it without reading a lot of deep complexity into it. It is such an empowering thing to be responsible for myself. I love it!

        And morally, too, I think I actually feel more responsibility toward people in my community than I did before. I understand the true give-and-take of human relationships. If I want to show love for someone, I don’t pray for them. I actually get up and do something for them that I know they will appreciate. If someone I love is in need, I help because I am connected to them just as they are to me, not because God tells me so or doing so makes me more godly. And it feels more important to help people because I don’t expect God to help when I forget. Those thoughts that “God will provide” and “there’s always a reason” take away our own responsibility for making things right in our own community of friends and family.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

      Oh, I’m 30, and I still use, “Mom said ‘No’” as an excuse.

  • Kentuckyfreethinker

    I Look forward to more of Mary’s honest writing. As a former Christian who was a year or so ago exactly where she is now, I believe that she too will eventually make that final leap and get out. But in the meantime, this is a great perspective for atheists to hear. 

    • Mary DeJesus

      Thanks. I like people from Kentucky. While I can’t assure I’m taking any leaps, I appreciate your kindness.

      • http://www.facebook.com/chris.wonderboy Chris Pata

        As a former Christian I can tell you that this story is quite normal throughout the deconversion process. Where it will lead you I don´t know. I would like to know more from you to see what happens.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Scott-Miles/673540867 Scott Miles

    Hi Mary. Thank you for responding  to Hemant’s  question for us. It is interesting to hear from a thoughtful person ‘on the inside’ discuss issues like this so frankly.

    • Mary DeJesus

      Thank you. Just wait. More to come … :)

  • Anonymous

    I’m much more interested in why Mary believes in things she can’t demonstrate, than some ridiculous video.  Does her Christianity influence her decisions and is it important to her that the things she believes in are actually true?

    • Mary DeJesus

      Don’t worry. I’m going to be sorting out a lot of junk on here. My therapist moved so I figured this could be a good resource for me…as long as people stay tactful.

      • Anonymous

        Depends on what you mean by tactful – it is one thing to challenge an idea that you think has no basis in reality versus just being insulting.

      • http://twitter.com/0xabad1dea Melissa E

        It sounds like you are on track to a more refined set of core beliefs, and I respect that :) Some people (especially here, ESPECIALLY on some other atheist blogs who may link here) will be very, very blunt, but I guess you’ve seen this already… mmmooooost of them don’t mean it maliciously. (On the internet, there’s *always* someone who means it maliciously.)

        • Anonymous

           Thank you. You phrased that very well and true to my intention.

      • key_player_88

        Yeah, echoing and expanding on what DKeane123 said. I’m not sure you realize how condescending it sounds when someone on your side of the Christian privilege bubble talks about “tact.” It sets you up as the arbiter of what’s “tactful,” and allows you to draw the line anywhere *you* feel uncomfortable exploring new ideas or having your opinions challenged. In that way, it’s a little like “God told me so,” in that it shifts the blame and absolves you of the responsibility of carrying on a discussion on the merits of your own arguments.

        Atheists on this site are generally pretty careful to remain respectful of *people* while criticizing *ideas* (an important distinction I hope you’re aware of). But when you’ve been raised in an environment that just assumes the rightness and goodness of religion, any criticism of religious ideas can feel like a personal attack. I urge you to question your initial gut reaction to such experiences, and drill down to the substance of the criticism, and only then decide whether it’s something you want to explore or discard.

        Tact is not the way to truth. Tact is the way to fluffy good feelings among people who suppress their opinions for fear of offending others. Truth is approached by respectful dialogue and honest criticism of ideas.

        (For reference, I [like many others on this forum] lived in “the bubble” for a good many years. I wasn’t as close to the “center” as you are, but I did serve as a band leader / worship leader at a large metropolitan mainline church for over ten years, which accounts for about a quarter of my life to this point. I know what it’s like to be totally committed to the whole theist package. I also know what it’s like to question/read/reason/discuss my way out of it.)

        • Anonymous

           Sorry my people have been seen as condescending with the word tact. I am a stickler for words and their true meanings. Please don’t cast a very broad net.

          • key_player_88

            Aaaand there goes the irony meter. Again. Thanks for the not-pology.

            I merely meant that claiming you’re offended by one “taboo” behavior or another that isn’t “tactful” (as defined by you and/or your dominant culture) is a tempting way to weasel out of needing to defend your arguments. I’m not saying you’re doing that, or that I expect you to do that; it’s merely a tip about how we’re accustomed to discussing things here in the rough-and-tumble world *outside* the bubble where ideas are expected to earn their respect instead of being propped up by authoritarian tradition.

            Also, please check your privilege. Freethinkers are frequently told to STFU, usually in pseudo-polite, passive-aggressive ways, so we know it when we see it. Expect to get called on it, and expect to be seriously taken to task if you don’t acknowledge your error.

            • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=593717582 Alexa Joy

              Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is everything I wanted to say!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thaumas-Themelios/100001074236927 Thaumas Themelios

    This article is excellently written and hilariously insightful. Love the pseudonym, too (I’m assuming, but — come on!? ‘Married to Jesus’? If it’s not a pun, it might as well be). More, more, more! Please, don’t let this be a one-time thing. Reading this gave me some hope for the future!

    Either the author is a really sincerely believing Christian of the non-fundie type (and a fun and congenial one at that), or she is an incredibly slick and witty Poe. I honestly cannot tell. That’s how good it is! Kudos!

    Since such quality of Poe’ing is unheard of, I will unfortunately have to assume for the moment that the author is a sincere Christian. In that case, I will not attempt to debate you in these comments. Instead, I will simply suggest googling one word: compartmentalization.

    And also, I would offer such an excellent video by Greta Christina, which can only hope to be an appropriately excellent response to such an excellent blog post. May it ‘shake things up’ a little: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUI_ML1qkQE

    • Mary DeJesus

      Unfortunately, then, you are correct. I appreciate your very lovely comment and am looking forward to contributing and engaging more.

    • Annie

      “(I’m assuming, but — come on!? ‘Married to Jesus’? If it’s not a pun, it might as well be).”

      Not a pun… but a nun.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thaumas-Themelios/100001074236927 Thaumas Themelios

        “Not a pun… but a nun. ”

        Punning about nunning is addictive. If you don’t stop now, it’ll turn into a bad habit.

    • Drew M.

      Maria DeJesus is a fairly common name in Central and South America and Maria is Spanish for Mary.

      ETA: And it gives rise to one of the coolest sounding nicknames ever: Marichuy.

  • Michael

    I often do things because some kind of Force Majeure seems to be compelling me in that direction and I can’t be bothered opposing it. I call it a whim.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thaumas-Themelios/100001074236927 Thaumas Themelios

      A whim is telling me to break up with you. Sorry. ;-)

      • Flah the Heretic Methodist

        A whim is telling me you and Michael are soul mates and must stay together.  Since I’m clearly more in the spirit than you are, my whim is the correct whim.

        • Michael

          On a whim I’ll ignore your whim.

          • Anonymous

             It would appear this thread is just full of whim.

            • Anonymous

               Amen. :-)

              • Michael

                Whimen :-)

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thaumas-Themelios/100001074236927 Thaumas Themelios

          “Since I’m clearly more in the spirit than you are, my whim is the correct whim.”

          My whim could beat up your whim!

          • Michael

            What a whimsical contest that would be.

    • Mary DeJesus

      It’s a whim when we want to take responsibility. It totes Jesus when we don’t. Sometimes, we just flip a coin.

      • Michael

        I also sometimes flip a coin when someone asks me for a decision and I want to convey that I’m really not bothered one way or another.

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

     
    Do some Christian girls really yearn for a Samson? That guy seemed to be into prostitutes.

    One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her. – Judges 16:1

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thaumas-Themelios/100001074236927 Thaumas Themelios

      Hot.   ;-)

    • Mary DeJesus

      His supposed wife just got burned up in a fire after his supposed father in law took her back before they could wed. A man has needs. Lots of people in the Bible hooked up with prostitutes.

      • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

        You can’t forget that he killed 30 strangers for their robes and set foxes on fire.   Samson always seemed like a psychopath, and I could never figure out why he was considered a hero. 

        • Thackerie

           He seems like a big, dumb jock to me.

          I understand some women like that sort of thing — but not any woman I’d want to be.

        • A Portlander

          Because he was Yahweh’s psychopath. It’s like that SNL skit about being attractive. How can you assure your actions are moral?

          1. Belong to the right religion.

          2. Don’t belong to the wrong religion.

          3. Belong to the correct religion.

      • Anonymous

        “A man has needs” – looks like the right response if one of those men unfortunately made the prostitute pregnant is to burn her to death. Assume that met a need as well.

        “And [Judah] turned unto her by the way, and said, Go to, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee; (for he knew not that she was his daughter in law.) And she said, What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come in unto me?…And it came to pass about three months after, that it was told Judah, saying, Tamar thy daughter in law hath played the harlot; and also, behold, she is with child by whoredom. And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt” (Genesis 38:16, 40).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-A-Anderson/100000016895400 John A. Anderson

    Very entertaining post. Assuming it is not a Poe, “Mary” is being intellectually lazy in conceding the logical weaknesses of religion while continuing to participate in it. Shit or get off the pot, as my mother used to say. BTW, do you really think we atheists are surprised to hear that religious figures privately like to drink, drug and philander? We watch the news. Does the name Ted Haggard mean anything to you? Jimmy Swaggart? Jim and Tammy Bakker? Have you read “Elmer Gantry”? Believe me, we know.

    • Mary DeJesus

      I’m not surprised you know. And I am pretty much staying on the pot. As if my intentions were not made clear….I AM LEARNING…and even harder for me to play nice with (aside from people in my own bubble) are people who push me to figure out life. So. Grrr. I don’t have life figured out and that’s part of the reason I’m here.

      PS…your celebrities are so 1990. :)

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-A-Anderson/100000016895400 John A. Anderson

        Well, I’m so 1950, I’m kind of proud to be up to 1990! Good luck to you.

        • Anonymous

           Thanks, John!

      • Abubbleist

        Of course you
        don’t have life figured out yet, none of us do. That isn’t the point that is
        most bothersome to me about this post. But, before I get to my constructive criticism
        of your post, let me say that I applaud your recognition – and willingness to
        admit it – that something just doesn’t quite add up with your religious
        beliefs.

        “I
        do realize how absolutely insane that sounds, but I believe it.”

        That is the line that really gets to me. As an atheist,
        obviously the claim that “it sounds insane” doesn’t bother me. However, the “I
        believe it” doesn’t bother me either. What bothers me is the absence of the
        word “because.”

        Now, as you pointed out, you don’t have the answer. You don’t
        have life figured out yet. I’m not looking for an answer. What I am looking for
        is evidence that you’re trying to discover an answer. I don’t need a correct, Nobel
        Prize winning answer here (there is no such thing as a “correct” answer to this
        question). Neither do I need a defense of your beliefs. What I need is you
        showing us that you’re actively searching.

        Something along these lines for example: “I do realize how
        absolutely insane that sounds, but I believe it anyway. I believe it because
        the alternative – life without the guidance and grace of God – to me at least,
        sounds even more insane!”

        Or, perhaps: “I do realize how absolutely insane that
        sounds, but I believe it anyway. Why? I don’t really know. Is it because I’m
        insecure and I need that faith to bolster my self-esteem? I have actually
        thought of that, but I’m very certain that this is not the case. I’m not saying
        I’m always completely sure of myself – who is? – but really, this is not the
        reason for my faith. I’m still looking for that answer.”

        And there are any number of other responses you might make.
        But the one you did make is:

        It’s crazy. I believe it. Isn’t that just the weirdest thing?
        Oh well, ta da!

        You don’t need to defend your beliefs. You don’t need to
        know any answers. But if you’re not looking for an answer, then, well, quite
        frankly, why should I care about anything you have to say? Yeah, I know that
        sounds bad – and I don’t mean it to be. But really, if all you’re doing is
        saying it’s weird and then not bothering to look for why it’s weird, then you’re
        not really saying anything. And, if you’re not saying anything, then I have to
        ask, why would I bother to listen?

        Which brings us to the final point. If I don’t feel it’s
        worth my time to listen, they why in the blazes did I take so much time to
        create such a long post?

        Well, first, as I said when I started, I admire your
        willingness to acknowledge the question in the first place. And, secondly,
        because I believe that you may well get to the point where you are actively
        searching. And once there, then it is worth my time to listen. So, come on
        Mary. It’s crazy. You believe it. Now, tell us why? What do you think is the
        reason for why you still believe it?

  • Darwin’s Dagger

    Mary, I’m going to give you some advice that should have been given to that poor Mormon girl a couple of years ago. Run! The friendliest of atheists take no prisoners.

    • Mary DeJesus

      Oh, everyone knows us Christians have bigger eggs than the mormons. Kidding….

      I’ve been warned, and I’ve been around here long enough to know what waits. But since I’m now kind of this veiled anonymity, I’m not afraid to lose some of the filter of what my own “people” may think. I’m here for the love and respect and honest dialogue. There are idiots and mean people everywhere. That’s not an atheist trait more or less than it is a Christian one.

      And if people are mean, they’ll be mean. I can take it.

    • http://profiles.google.com/michael.laporte Michael La Porte

       Well that’s painting with a pretty broad brush.  I’ll consider MYSELF excepted from that comment, as an atheist who is happy to take prisoners rather than kill. ;)

    • Anonymous

      So who was this Mormon girl? I’ve been reading FA for several years now, but I seem to have overlooked all the hubbub.

  • Mary

    Hi Mary – my name is Mary too. I started out completely into the Bubble. I loved the Bubble! Yes, I did my Bible reading and journaling either in an IHOP or in a cool hippy coffeehouse back in the 90′s when I was a high school/college student. I think I was one of the pioneers of that sort of Christian! It gave me lots of witnessing opportunities and made me feel special and important…all that time with God and talking about God and all of that. But there was always a part of me that was like you. I was seen as a leader, but went to a Christian retreat and skipped one of the more chauvinist sessions  (Oh that stuff made me so mad!) and took a few younger girls skinny dipping instead (girls only of course, I wasn’t THAT bad! It never occurred to me that one of them might enjoy seeing the other girls naked LOL). Once I went up to a pastor with a book I got from the church library. It claimed to dispute the most popular contradictions in the Bible. That book opened my eyes to a bunch of real problems with Scripture, and the author’s “resolutions” did NOT make them okay. The pastor’s explanations didn’t either. I was really disappointed and troubled that this expert I listened to week after week couldn’t do any better and basically said that God knew all the answers and some of them were just too complicated for us to understand. But I kept believing in my beloved Jesus.

    In college, a non-Christian friend I really respected and liked (and wanted to show Jesus to) asked me a brilliant question. When I got the nerve up to talk to her about faith, I told her that I was doing it because I loved her. And she asked, “Can’t you just love me because you love me? Can’t you just love me because love itself is good and not have an agenda?” That question made me think a lot about real love and what I associated with it. Why did love require me to hope that she would change and find God? Why couldn’t love just accept her for who she was, whatever her opinions or beliefs? And if I could love her like that, why didn’t God?The final straw for me was not my “disappointment with God” when I was diagnosed with cancer at 28. It was not my frustration at seeing other cancer patients praying so hard, yet the surviving and dying were completely randomized and had nothing to do with how wonderful or faithful the people were. It wasn’t seeing how faith in healing kept people from discussing very powerful and loving topics like “what to do if I die” and “what I’d like for my funeral” and “how are my loved ones doing knowing that I could die.”The final straw for me was reading the Bible one day. I was reading something in the Old Testament that just didn’t add up. I thought about it and realized that a loving God would not act that way, and I had to conclude that the Bible wasn’t perfect. At first, I could live with that…the Bible just didn’t fully depict God as He is. But then, the more I thought, the more it bothered me that my big wonderful God did not give us one book to rely on as Truth. Of course an all-powerful God could have done that, so why didn’t he? It was heartbreaking for me to realize that this “love of my life” wasn’t who I thought He was. From there, it wasn’t long until I realized that the God of the Bible didn’t work for me.  Either He was a God who claimed to be perfect but gave us an imperfect book, or He was a God we can’t know anything about for sure because the one book that supposedly came from Him was just human words. Now there is no warm fuzzy lover-of-my-soul Jesus in my life anymore. Maybe he existed, and maybe the Bible is accurate about him, but there are a lot of inconsistencies in the book and what we know about history, so believing requires more than just faith. It requires giving up logic and my love of science and history. So I figure I’ll base my life on what I do know. I know that life is short, that I better do something good with it because it may be all I get! What comes afterward, if anything, cannot be proven by anyone. So I am living and loving and enjoying life now without worrying about “me” and “what God thinks of me” all the time. It is quite freeing not to need a concept of yourself, not to need to scrutinize everything. I just do what I think is best and move on. Life is a beautiful, a short gift. Every little thing you do probably isn’t as important as a few major decisions you make and then the consistency  you have in living out those things well. Get a job that you believe in – do it well. Have a child – love her well. Find a cause – support it well. Those things will make a difference in the world. What you *think*, your opinions, even what you say…it’s a lot of words signifying very little. Just do something good with your life.

    I don’t mean to talk down to you. If you want to hold onto your faith and it works for you, then you do that. But keep writing here – love your style.

    • Mary

      Sorry the paragraph breaks got lost in my post and made me look like  a raving lunatic. Ahh well. It felt great to write all of that. I think that’s the first time I’ve written it all out. :) Didn’t mean to overwhelm!

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Noah-Sandler/11513713 Noah Sandler

        I got lost in your post, but in a good way!

        • Anonymous

           Exactly!

        • Mary

          Thanks. :-)

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thaumas-Themelios/100001074236927 Thaumas Themelios

        Great story, Mary (the other Mary, not Mary deJesus — and no, not Mary mother of Jesus, or Mary Magdalene either — no no, the other other Mary. You know, when the ‘two Marys’ went into the empty tomb? No, not in *that* Gospel, the *other* Gospel! The one with the TWO Marys!!! Gah. Yeah. So you see it now? Yeah. That Mary. No!!! The other one!!!!11! Thaaat Mary.)

        I didn’t even notice the missing line breaks. I love reading deconversion stories. Each one is unique, but there is something about them that they all share. A yearning curiosity, perhaps. A struggle against ancient forces of deception. A tenacity. A humble discovery. And finally, long sought freedom of thought.

        Congrats on your journey, as heroic as any other.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thaumas-Themelios/100001074236927 Thaumas Themelios

          Ha, that’s hilarious. I guess the blog software ‘finished’ by ‘sigh’ tag at the end of my post. Disregard that last ‘/sigh’.

    • Mary DeJesus

      Hi, Mary. Cool name. Thank you so much for sharing your story on here. There are many things we agree on. :) I look forward to interacting with you more.

  • Anonymous

    OK, so I’m going to take advantage of having a real live Christian who is not out to save us to ask a few questions that burn in my mind and I can never get an answer to (not a lot of Christians in my life):

    1. When Christians say things like they “don’t hate gay people, we love them” when arguing against their civil rights, or saying that it’s a sin like adultery or stealing, can you tell me if you think they are sincere? As an atheist it just seems utterly bizarre to claim to love someone and then work damn hard to ensure they lack the same rights as you do, all the while reminding them that their very being is a sin against God. That doesn’t look like any love that I can recognize, but I’ve never been religious so maybe I’m missing out on some different definition of the term…? The same question could apply to “I’m not judging you, only God can do that.”

    2. Do you believe in Hell? If so, how do you reconcile it with a loving God? I’ve heard Christians say that “we send ourselves to Hell”, which strikes me as simply bizarre. I have no faith, ergo I am destined towards Hell, but the only way I could “choose” Hell is if I actually believed it was a place that existed and decided I wanted to be there. No one this side of the insane asylum would ever do that. I simply cannot wrap my mind around the notion that someone would worship a being that set up rules such that billions of people would end up in eternal torment, with full foreknowledge that this would be the result. Obviously, this question is totally moot if you don’t buy into notions of Hell.

    3. On a lighter note: do Christian girls really talk like that? Annointed? Really?

    • Mary

      I’m a different “Mary,” but I can chime in on these since I was in the church for so long. :) 1. I think many Christians are sincere when they say they love gay people but not homosexuality. I was. That type of love is drilled into their heads as the highest type of love. If you REALLY love someone, you want them to know Jesus and to live a Bible-life, because that is what will make them happiest (even if they don’t know it). Since many Christians are taught that homsexuality is wrong, then they think that the best way to love a gay person is to love them but hope they will stop doing the gay stuff so they can be closer to God. 2. I believed in hell but believed that God was loving because he provided a way out. I simply saw it as a personal choice whether you wanted to spend eternity with Him or not. I always thought it was wrong to believe that God would send people who had never heard about the Bible to hell, since they didn’t get a fair choice. 3…Annointed,courting, Holy Spirit, God led me to…oh yes, they talk like that.

      • http://profiles.google.com/michael.laporte Michael La Porte

         “If you REALLY love someone, you want them to know Jesus and to live a
        Bible-life, because that is what will make them happiest (even if they
        don’t know it).”

        This is an important point in any dialog.  This is a radically (from a secularist/atheist perspective) PATERNAL love that makes perfect sense for Christians.  Its bordering on insulting and offensive from an atheist perspective when applied from one adult to another and it looks a lot like child abuse when applied from an adult to a child.

        • Anonymous

          I think it’s easier to understand this particular mindset if you consider it in parallel to something like a close friend or family member who has a problem with alcohol abuse.

          Certainly this doesn’t apply to all people who claim to “hate the sin but love the sinner” (and even those to whom it does apply are completely wrong) but it’s easier to understand from that perspective. They honestly believe that non-heterosexuality is a choice or compulsion that is damaging to an otherwise good person. 

          Of course there are plenty who just use it as an excuse to be mean spirited bigots. Those people can fuck right off.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thaumas-Themelios/100001074236927 Thaumas Themelios

            Yeah, I can imagine that if I sincerely, fully believed that there was something super-awesome, and someone I loved was totally missing out on it, I would try all sorts of things to try to convince them to get in on the super-awesome action.

            It all makes sense, all the way along, right up to the point where it doesn’t make sense. Then it’s like, “Whhuuu-aaait a minute! What if this is all bullshit?!”

            That’s why it’s so important for use to teach people to not just be superficially skeptical (religion is simply BS), or pseudo-skeptical (think Zeitgeist), but sincerely *self*-skeptical.

            Being self-skeptical means asking yourself the question, “How do I really know that?” about basically everything you think you really know. And then you ask the same question again. And again, and ….. ad infinitum.

            Sounds scary from the outside, but it’s not, because the amazing thing is: There are things we *really can* know. Not perfectly, not absolutely, but definitely reasonably. We exist. We’re here. We all live on one planet (and we’re messing it up — oopsy, better get on that!), gravity pulls downward, people are funny and friendly, but they can also be assholes or dangerous kooks. Too many kooks are sitting in the driver’s seat. And too many friendlies are stuck in a mythological fantasy to see reality for what it is, and need to just wake the fuck up already! Then we can get more people down here on good ol’ Earth, our Pale Blue Dot, to start cleaning up this mess we’ve made, and make ourselves a better future. There is hope. And Mary deJesus made my day today by giving me another glimpse of it! Hi MDJ, thanks again!

            • Mary DeJesus

              I like you

            • Mary

              Amen? haha

        • Mary

          I agree and wasn’t defending the position. The problem is when children are taught this kind of love from a early age, taught that true love wants only the best for others, which means that true love encourages people to get “right with God.” I was taught that, I had a pretty leather book written by God that said so, and that was all I needed to believe it. I was not taught critical thinking until college. You bet my daughter will not be growing up the same way!

          If you were to tell my old Christian self that this kind of love was offensive, I would not have understood you at all. It is unfortunate that no atheist ever got very far with me in any discussion. A few tried, but I think my Biblical quotations and total certainty combined with genuine caring just left them speechless and shaking their heads in frustration. It never even occurred to me that they might have valid points to make. I thought that human logic was worthless without the light of God’s truth (everyone’s logic, including my own).

    • Mary DeJesus

      The first two are definitely things I’ll be discussing in the future. I think I want to give them the space they need as a post and not hidden in the comments. So, I hope you regularly read this blog! :)

      The last one…YES. Dear, heavens. I just did a search in my personal email (which I keep pretty cleaned out) and there are at least 16 emails that showed up that have that word in it. May God have mercy on our souls.

      • Anonymous

        Glad to hear you’re going to address the topics and uhm, yeah, I think it can safely be said that I’m a regular reader :-D

    • Anonymous

      Christian here, I’ll try to answer them
      1. “hate the sin, love the sinner” might sound absurd, but I don’t think it’s necesarily contradictory. What is really cognitive dissonance is using this same meme when arguing against gay’s (or any other non-christian* minority). But there you miss me because I’m not against homosexual, so I’m not your typical christian in this issue. (I believe in church-state separation almost the same way as anabaptists have been teaching it sonce XVI century)

      2. It’s bizarre, surely. I don’t have a final take on this, but I tend to side with annihilationism here. As the other Mary pointed, I see it as the consequences of freely and consciusly rejecting God. And I don’t believe hell is a lake of fire, or similar to Dante’s Inferno (great book BTW). But also I find myself stucked into some weird definition of love in christianese language.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thaumas-Themelios/100001074236927 Thaumas Themelios

        Hey Mountainguy, not to pick on you, just some questions I thought of while reading your post. Not intending to debate, just food for thought.

        Re: Annihilationism.

        If he’s just going to annihilate us anyway, why doesn’t he annihilate people *right before* they die experiencing pain or suffering? Would that just be too ‘obvious’ or something? What’s with all the horrible nastiness that so often accompanies death (for millions of years, I might add)?

        Further, why doesn’t he annihilate everyone who is never going to accept/believe in him right now? I mean, what’s he waiting for. What purpose do we who will die as atheists serve, except to taunt religious folks and lure them away from their faiths? Does god *want* atheists to exist? Isn’t that potentially harmful to true, believing Christians who might be fooled by atheists into giving up theism?

        He doesn’t even have to mess with free will on this. Today we have:
        X number of people who will believe correctly, and Y number of people who won’t. God knows the numbers, both X and Y, and he also knows exactly which people fall into those two groups. He already knows this. This is the current situation today, according to most Christians I’ve met.

        Okay, why not a kind of ‘reverse rapture’. Just subtract Y people from existence. In a single split-second, god could poof, simply eliminate the people who by their own free will are never going to choose him, sparing them any suffering and hardships they might experience in life (and god knows, there’s plenty of *that* in this world).

        This in no way affects the free will of people in either the X group or the Y group. The people in the X group were already going to choose him anyway, of their own free will. He doesn’t interfere with that in any way if he simply annihilates the Ys. (Noticing now that I picked good letters for the Xs (Xtians) and the Ys (Y U NO ATHEIST?))

        Pushing this one final step further, if god has the power to completely annihilate people
        who don’t accept him, and he already knows, even before we’re
        born *who* is going to accept him (Xtians), and who *isn’t* (Y?s), then why does he
        bother to create the Ys at all? I mean, he could just NOT create
        people who would eventually choose to remain atheists until they die, at
        which point they will be annihilated *anyway*. What was the point of
        their existence in the first place? Y doesn’t god only exclusively create Xs, people who would, through their own free will, choose to accept him. In other words:

        Y do Ys exist? That is my question.

        • Anonymous

          Don’t worry about picking one me. I started this, and have to face it, heehhe.

          “If he’s just going to annihilate us anyway, why doesn’t he annihilate people *right before* they die experiencing pain or suffering? Would that just be too ‘obvious’ or something? What’s with all the horrible nastiness that so often accompanies death (for millions of years, I might add)?Further, why doesn’t he annihilate everyone who is never going to accept/believe in him right now? I mean, what’s he waiting for. What purpose do we who will die as atheists serve, except to taunt religious folks and lure them away from their faiths? Does god *want* atheists to exist? Isn’t that potentially harmful to true, believing Christians who might be fooled by atheists into giving up theism?”

          Don’t know how I’m sounding, but I think is the same wether God would disappear the “Y” population in life or after it. I would get it for “Y’s” who really suffer in this life (victims of starvation, torture, etc) but in the end I think this ultimately leads the whole debate to Theodicy (a quite complicated and annoying subject) rather than simply asking why not be annihilated now and not after death.

          “Pushing this one final step further, if god has the power to completely annihilate people who don’t accept him, and he already knows, even before we’reborn *who* is going to accept him (Xtians), and who *isn’t* (Y?s), then why does he bother to create the Ys at all? I mean, he could just NOT create people who would eventually choose to remain atheists until they die, atwhich point they will be annihilated *anyway*. What was the point of their existence in the first place? Y doesn’t god only exclusively create Xs, people who would, through their own free will, choose to accept him.”

          I don’t believe in double predestination. I don’t think God is a powerful psycho who plays games with human lives, having set their fate from the very begining. That’s not the kind of God I believe in. Certainly the biblical God, especially the OT one, is not the most pleasant character, but I don’t worship someone who has decreed from the very begining who will be saved and who will burn forever in hell. Off course, this doesn’t fix the problem of Ys and their postlife situation. I’d add something about how God loves free will and personal responsability (not the point of turning it into a fiscal conservative meme, hehehehe) but I can’t deny the Bible states something akin to the existence of hell, or at the very least the posibility of not everyone going to heaven (even if hell is not as horrible as they paint it, or the posibility of annihilation, the fate is equally horrible).

          ” In other words: Y do Ys exist? That is my question.”

          i don’t know. Maybe for the delight of God, or some other non-sensical answer, or because many Ys in history have led the fight against nutjobs (something I’m thankful for).

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thaumas-Themelios/100001074236927 Thaumas Themelios

            “but in the end I think this ultimately leads the whole debate to Theodicy (a quite complicated and annoying subject)”

            It’s not complicated or annoying *for atheists*. It makes perfect sense if there’s no benevolent god, that there would be pain and suffering. (Pain is easily explained via evolution, for example, as an adaptive trait, naturally selected.)

            In fact, the concept of a benevolent god *introduces* a problem that simply does not exist for atheists. And you are correct; that problem is theodicy, the problem of evil and/or suffering. This problem *only* exists for theists. And yes, indeed, it should be rather ‘annoying’ to them. That is indeed the entire point.

            “I don’t believe in double predestination. …  having set their fate
            from the very begining. That’s not the kind of God I believe in.”

            Important: Not ‘setting’ their fate **knowing** their fate.

            Is your god concept not omniscient? Does it not know everything that has ever happened and **will** ever happen?

            [BTW: If it doesn't know everything that will ever happen, how can you be at all confident that heaven will be eternal bliss (or whatever you believe)? What if your god concept is simply mistaken that you'll get rewarded for believing?]

            Please note: The scenario I described is perfectly compatible with the Christian conception of ‘free will’, and I have explicitly and intentionally constructed it that way.

            Your god’s *knowing* the future does not violate free will. My scenario only depends on god *knowing* the future, not ‘setting’ it.

            “but I don’t worship someone who has decreed from the
            very begining who will be saved and who will burn forever in hell.”

            I’m confused. Earlier you said:
            “but I tend to side with annihilationism here. As the other Mary pointed,
            I see it as the consequences of freely and consciusly rejecting God.”

            Surely, your god must *know* who is going to eventually “freely and consciously reject” him, right? Or are you saying that your god doesn’t know this ahead of time?

            Can a mere mortal human, a creation of an omniscient god, actually *surprise* your god?

            God: Nuts! I thought for sure Billy was going to stay a Christian his whole life, but was I ever in for a shock when he read the God Delusion. Never saw *that* one coming. How could I have been so stupid?! My whole master plan for the universe is going to sh’t. I never should have signed that damned non-omniscience waiver. Me damn me!

            Earlier God: Noooo! Not Jeffrey Dahmer! How could that sicko convert to Christianity before he died?! He’s a serial killer and cannibal, he’s not supposed to accept me. This is the worst mistake I made since that whole Hitler thing. Why couldn’t that little Jewish girl Anne Frank accept me as her Lord and Saviour; while that assclown Hitler never bothered to go atheist. It just doesn’t make sense! When I created this universe way back, and worked out that whole Adam and Eve, Heaven/Hell, Jesus self-sacrifice thing, I thought it was fool proof. These damn humans with their free will are fucking up the whole thing. I sure do love that free will, though! Man, that’s cool.

            Why didn’t your god just *not create* Anne Frank?

            “i don’t know. Maybe for the delight of God, or some other non-sensical
            answer, or because many Ys in history have led the fight against nutjobs
            (something I’m thankful for).”

            Are you really saying that your god created Anne Frank to delight in her suffering under the Nazis? Or that her suffering was worth it, just so you can be ‘thankful’? What about Anne? What does she get out of the deal? Annihilation?

            Sounds a tad worse than ‘non-sensical’ to me. Sounds f’d right up.

            • Anonymous

              On the free will stuff, there’s a wide range of positions: predestinationism (God set the future), God doesn’t set the future, but knows it (close to arminianism, but accepted by more denominations), middle knowledge (molinism), and in the other side: open theism and process theology. Most christians side with the 2 first positions.

              ” This problem *only* exists for theists. And yes, indeed, it should be rather ‘annoying’ to them. That is indeed the entire point.”

              Agreed. And I don’t even think we theists will ever find an answer; not even agreement. It seems that other part of the problem is wether salvation is only through faith, works, both, etc.

              “Are you really saying that your god created Anne Frank to delight in her suffering under the Nazis? Or that her suffering was worth it, just so you can be ‘thankful’? What about Anne? What does she get out of the deal? Annihilation?Sounds a tad worse than ‘non-sensical’ to me. Sounds f’d right up.”

              Not me, but many christians beleive this, even to the point of pointing that anything happens because god wants itm and everytime he is delighted about the results (holocaust, famine, the world cup). I find it objectable. Heck, I’d even worship a weak god, or one who accepts he can do wrong. I accept my answers are flawed, or that I might be a heretic, or a lazy thinker, but given how messed up is everything down here, I’m not satisfied with simple intelectual asesment of doctrinal points (no matter how important they might be for christianity).

              “[After some sleep(!): I realize I said I wasn't intending to debate. Ah, well. Bit of a rant, then. I won't pursue it.] ”

              Don’t worry. I answered mostly to be polite (then I ask if should I shut my mouth/keyboard)

              • http://purl.net/NET/JesseW/SundryStuff/ Jesse

                I’m not trying to continue this discussion/rant/debate, just sum it up, primarily for the lurkers (who support me in email ;-) )

                mountainguy said: “I don’t even think we theists will ever find an answer; not even agreement.” and ” I accept my answers are flawed, or that I might be a heretic, or a lazy
                thinker, but given how messed up is everything down here, I’m not
                satisfied with simple intelectual asesment of doctrinal points”

                That’s not an answer.  And it’s not that many theists haven’t found an answer to the question; they have — it’s called atheism. Rather than seriously consider this possible answer to what he agrees is a legitimate question, he simply insists that, even though the question is legitimate, and even though he disagrees with some proposed answers, it’s just “impossible” to find an answer. 

                Now I’m speaking to all who make the claim that there’s “no answer” to these questions. This claim of “impossibility” is simply, flagrantly false.  An answer exists.  It’s staring you in the face.  If you have a problem, and refuse a plainly available solution in favor of insisting the solution doesn’t exist… I don’t know how best to characterize that, but it ain’t right, that’s for sure.

      • Anonymous

         “As the other Mary pointed, I see it as the consequences of freely and consciously rejecting God.”

        Two friendly points of rebuttal:

        1) Atheists don’t reject god, generally speaking, they reject the assertion of god’s existence. There is a very real difference there that I think many believers miss. After all, are you “rejecting” Buddha, Odin, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or do you simply not believe they exist? Is it even possible or meaningful to reject something that you do not believe is real? What if someone said you were evil because you rejected the existence of, say, The Force as shown in Star Wars? Wouldn’t you think they were off their rocker?

        2) Assuming that the Biblical God and Hell are both entirely real, Hell being a consequence of disbelief doesn’t negate the fact that God created that consequence in the first place and could, being all-powerful, change the rules (or get rid of Hell altogether, or make his existence plain to everyone, etc). In other words, the buck eventually stops with god, no matter how you slice it, and it doesn’t follow that an all-loving deity would create Hell or allow people to go there if it was possible to prevent it.

        • Anonymous

          1. I get your point, but for mere practical reasons in this case (i.e. the consequences in afterlife by rejecting god(s); asuuming they/he/she/it exists), I take “rejection of god” and “rejecting the assertion of god” as they were the same.
          As for me, I think I am a monotheist, in the sense of rejecting other deities, but more because of growing up in the western world where the only options seem to be either believe in one god or none. Certainly, for a long time ancient judaism was henotheistic  instead of strictly monotheist, and I accept we christians just take this as granted.

          2. The classical theist position holds an idea of God as unchangeable, but I don’t fully accept that. In fact, there is a dilemma (probably you have heard of it) when omnipotence and omniscience colide. I don’t have a particular position about this.
          The NT speaks about hell (more exactly Gehena), so this could be part of “proper” christian doctrine. What I don’t buy is the calvinist idea of double predestination, that largely justifies the belief that God created Hell, or had this in mind since the very begining.

          • Anonymous

             “I take “rejection of god” and “rejecting the assertion of god” as they were the same.”

            I understand you see them as being the same in terms of consequences, but there is a huge difference in terms of implications. If god’s existence was unambiguous and he was “rejected” by someone (meaning, I suppose, a lack of worship or fidelity), and if the consequences were well-established and verifiable, then the rejector would at least be going into that situation as an informed actor.

            However, if (as is the actual case) the existence of god was not unambiguous…OR if a person simply believed in the wrong thing due to accident of birth, then the non-believer is not actually rejecting the deity as such. Rather, she either has no good reason to believe or thinks there is good reason to believe otherwise. In such a case, the responsibility for the consequences lies fully with the deity because he has made it so that the individual cannot make an informed decision. If the consequence for lacking correct belief due to a lack of unambiguous, reliable information is eternal torture, that makes the god of the New Testament evil.

            “The classical theist position holds an idea of God as unchangeable, but I don’t fully accept that.”

            Fair enough. But that still doesn’t let god off the hook for being evil enough to create hell in the first place or for making up the arbitrary rule about needing to believe in him to avoid it. But if god is indeed changeable, then how can one hold to any belief at all about what that god wants or requires of us? How do you know he hasn’t changed his mind about faith and now gives eternal reward to those who reject his existence based on reason? But how would that then make faith worthy of torture? It wouldn’t, of course, especially in the context of inadequate information. Either way, a loving god (or one otherwise worth worshiping) wouldn’t be setting up these kinds of conditions one way or the other. As the original poster above pointed out, it’s a catch-22.

    • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

      I’ve heard Christians say that “we send ourselves to Hell”, which strikes me as simply bizarre. I have no faith, ergo I am destined towards Hell, but the only way I could “choose” Hell is if I actually believed it was a place that existed and decided I wanted to be there. No one this side of the insane asylum would ever do that.

      I think they mean it as a consequential choice. If you choose not to follow god, you are therefore ultimately (not directly) making the choice to go to hell. That course of action could only inevitably lead to one outcome.

    • absent sway

      As a former bubble-dweller, I’d like to try my hand at tackling these, too. The easiest answer is to #3: Yes, I have heard people use “anointed” on more than one occasion! Christians use a lot of jargon and we used to make fun of ourselves for that tendency, too. It varies widely by denomination, of course.

      The answer to #1 varies according to the individual. There are obviously a lot of people who are uncomfortable with gay sex (hell, with sex in general) and use this approach to try to justify or soften their attitudes of judgment and superiority. There is another group of people who are genuinely uncomfortable with the Bible’s apparent condemnation of homosexual acts (I realize that there are other possible readings which are favored by liberal denominations) and their churches’ emphasis on this condemnation as if it were a major biblical topic. Most people I knew were somewhere in between, trying to reconcile the Bible’s teachings on love with its condemnation, often resulting in this strange marriage of sincere goodwill and utter condescension. Those of us who were making gay friends (including discovering gay people in our churches who were suffering trying to make sense of that in our specific religious context) were greatly troubled by this conflict and often went liberal or left the church. In my experience, the kind of church that is attempting to interpret the Bible literally is the same kind of church that feels obligated to legislate biblical morality, and is the same kind of church that is comfortable with the authoritarian approach in general. Obviously YMMV. In short, many people affiliated with institutions like this think they are denying gay people these rights for their greater good. They want their gay neighbors to be happy, but they don’t want them to suffer God’s wrath, and they trust God to take care of the details.

      As to #2, that was probably the most difficult idea I faced as a believer. The way I was taught (and accepted, given all my limited life experience at the time and the seal of approval of virtually everyone I trusted, and the fact that I was thoroughly indoctrinated from the age of two or three onward), the validity of the Bible is not really up for discussion, and it is paramount that everything be based on our best understanding of it. The Bible has plenty to say about hell, so I took hell for granted, not eagerly, but with the same attitude that one learns to accept that one can’t fly–it sucks, but that’s just the way the world works. I was very upset at the thought of most of my friends and acquaintances ending up there, given that most of them were not “saved,” and asked the usual questions about people in remote areas who don’t hear the gospel, etc., but hell was established in my mind as a fact of life so early that questioning it seemed both silly and, more importantly, dangerous. I was supposed to be the witness and the watchman so that my loved ones had a chance to accept Jesus and escape hell. I made peace with the idea as best I could, by assuming that God knew what a wonderful person so-and-so was even more than I did, and surely he was working in so-and-so’s life and would lead them to Jesus…any day now? I prayed, in tears, for my friends. Eventually I learned more about liberal theology (annihilation instead of eternal conscious torment, etc.) and I gave up on hell before I gave up on God. I eventually could no longer accept at any level that someone as loving (and powerful) as the God I served was supposed to be, who inspired love in me for others, would let a tiny detail like hell get in the way. He must have some secret trump card he hadn’t revealed yet.

  • Annie

    Interesting spin.  I’m looking forward to sitting back and seeing how this all plays out.

    • Mary DeJesus

      Me too. I think.

  • Christina M.

    Welcome Mary!  I enjoyed your post and look forward to hearing about life inside the Bubble!  Also, second I_Claudia’s questions.  

    • Anonymous

       Thank you :)

  • Anonymous

    Mary: “I follow the teachings of Jesus”
    Luke 14:26 : ““If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.”
    How do you follow that teaching exactly?

    • Mary DeJesus

      Oh, please. Let’s not get into contextual/original language debates so early on. Can’t we just talk about the weather or something first?

      • Anonymous

        It’s snowing where i am. When you say things like “I follow the teachings of Jesus” I think a lot of people here would be interested in knowing what you really mean by that. Many of the teachings of bible are odious at best (and since Jesus was very clear that the Hebrew Bible had to be followed in every word, you are not off the hook from the teachings in that book). Are there any teachings at all of Jesus that you do not follow I wonder? For any reason?

        • Anonymous

           There have been lots of teachings I haven’t followed….if you simply take the English text for what it is.

          I…got a divorce.
          I…got drunk.
          I…have been (to quote the bible) “sexually immoral.”
          I…have lied.
          I…have taken God’s name in vain.
          I…have been selfish.
          I…have done a whole lotta crap that the Scriptures say I don’t.

          But – I try…because I believe the morals and values outlined in Scripture are important for me to live by.

          I also am a bit into the whole ad fontes notion: to the source…what was this scripture/passage/etc. saying to the people for whom it was originally intended? How does that translate into my own culture? Those are questions I ask.

          • Michael

            By whose definition do you consider yourself to have been sexually immoral? If a good time was had by all involved and no harm was done then where’s the immorality?

            • Anonymous

               the parenthetical I thought may have given it away, but I took into consideration the Bible’s view on sex. I know. Shocking! But that is the value system I’ve chosen for my life.

              • Michael

                No, I am honestly curious why you think whatever act you committed to be what Jesus was talking about when he used the words “Sexually immoral” – it’s not like he said “Thou shalt not put thy tab A into the slot B of a person whom…” etc.  You assume that what you did is what he meant but with all the context we have he could have meant sex on an empty stomach.

          • Anonymous

            Mary, I should have said “hello” first of all. You seem like a very loving, tolerant person based on your patient answers to so many questions. I hope everyone is treating you politely and with as much respect as you deserve. Since in this intial post you are also willing to let us know a little bit about you, i’d like to ask you another question related to this topic. Are there any teachings of Jesus that you could not or would not have figured out on your own? ie, are there any teachings that, when you looked at them you thought “yes, I wouldn’t actually have done this had Jesus not taught it”. What are those teachings? 

          • Abubblist

            Fair enough. But are there any teachings of Jesus that you don’t want to follow – or don’t agree with?

            For example, Jesus does preach that divorce is acceptable, provided that your partner was unfaithful. Jesus makes it quite clear that he is talking about sexual faithfulness. In other words, if your ex-husband slept with another woman while you were married, then Jesus is perfectly fine with your divorce.

            However, Jesus also makes it quite clear that this is the ONLY acceptable reason for a divorce.

            Imagine that you married once again. This time, unfortunately, you discover that your new husband physically beats you. Would you believe in getting a divorce for that reason? Jesus says, emphatically, NO! Do you agree or disagree? And why?

  • Mike Williams

    I’m most curious as to why you became a believer.  Not so much the arguments you use now to defend your belief, but the initial reason(s).

    And thanks for taking the time to write the post and respond to so many of the comments.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for reading :)

      I am one of those “believers” who doesn’t necessarily believe in a spontaneous moment of salvation. There are times when I have surrendered to my faith (and my God, as it is) and times I have walked away. Why? Because when I have chosen not to (which was a significant portion of my adult life), I realized I am better…me…and therefore better in giving to those around me…with my beliefs. That sounds a little obscure…but, that’s the thing about the unexplainable.

      • Anonymous

        I always find that sentiment quite sad – that a person doesn’t know how to be a good person without a 2,000 year old book telling them what to do. I had quite the opposite experience – I know that I became a more moral, ethical, caring, loving person precisely because I gave up those beliefs that are helping you. Funny, don’t you think? 

        • Anonymous

           I’m a really darn good person without that book. It’s that book that makes me a little bit crazy. :)

          Regardless, it’s not sad. Sad’s what you say when a puppy gets run over. When someone chooses a value system for themselves taking into consideration their upbringing, cultural norms, world experiences (for reference purposes, I’ve spent a looooot of time not in the US) and serious, serious jacked up crap they’ve dealt with “with church” and still makes a decision…that’s not sad. That’s just making a decision.

          • BinaryStar

            I’ve got to disagree with you on that one, Mary. I have a dear friend who used to be one of the most skeptical people I knew. Then a few years ago, she “drank the Kool-Aid,” joining a backwater church and becoming everything she used to loathe. And that, my dear, is indeed sad, just as FTFKDad stated.

          • Anonymous

            Thanks once again for your time and for replying. I’d agree with you that sad is when a puppy gets run over – if it was an accident. if a puppy is run over through some malicious act – or, for example – somebody did it deliberately because a book told them to do it… then perhaps sad is not the right word. However, what I think you are saying is that in fact your value system is not based only on the bible – or even primarily on the bible? – but on your life experiences, learnings, cultural norms and so on. So perhaps some of those factors outweight some teachings of Jesus that do not make sense in a modern context or perhaps the teachings of Jesus you do follow are cultural norms anyway. I still wonder if there are any parts of your chosen value system you feel you could only have gotten to through the bible -ie, that would not today be part of your value system if it had not been for the bible. Anyway, it’s still snowing where I am, hope you are having a good weekend!

  • http://twitter.com/melbadear Melanie Bracey

    I’m excited to see Hemant welcoming someone like you, Mary, into our conversation. I also come from a devoted Christian background, and it took a lot of thought and answering my own tough questions to decide it wasn’t for me. I look forward to your posts.

    In the meantime, folks, why can’t we take a live and let live attitude toward Mary? She’s coming here, opening herself up, willing to start conversations, but all it seems the majority of the commenters here want to do is start confrontations. Some of you sound as bad as the crazy Christians about “converting” Mary to someone like you. If she concludes this exercise still a Christian, but perhaps armed with some useful tools she can use to talk to others within the Bubble, is that really such a terrible thing? At this point in the push for atheists to come out as “the person next door”, it’s more important that we have allies on the Christian side who can talk about the goodness of atheists than it is to convert everyone we know to “our side”. Let’s let Mary make her own decisions instead of saying things like “it will just take some time before she’s one of us.”

    • http://www.shadesthatmatter.blogspot.com asmallcontempt

      I don’t think any of the comments thus far have been attacks on her character, although she will undoubtedly get some snide and snarky comments, given that this is the internet. Mostly, she is going to have A LOT of people challenging her on her irrational and unsubstantiated belief (which, from what I understand, is exactly what she wants as she’s trying to “figure it out” for herself).

      “Live and let live” is often synonymous with “why can’t you [insert "annoying" minority] shut up and let us say what we want?” To some – especially believers – having these principles challenged might register as personally offensive, but minimizing confrontation won’t get us any closer to the tough questions that need to be asked.

      I don’t think anyone here is wringing their hands in a smoky back room going “MUAHAHAHA…it’s only a matter of time before she’s ONE OF US!” She’s a Christian airing her issues with Christianity and Christian culture in a public atheist forum. I think she knows what she’s doing. :)

      • Anonymous

         ;-)

    • Anonymous

       <3 That is all I gotta say. :) Gracias.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thaumas-Themelios/100001074236927 Thaumas Themelios

      Melanie Bracey, *confrontationally* addressing everyone here, like a street preacher with a megaphone: “In the meantime, folks, why can’t we take a live and let live attitude
      toward Mary? She’s coming here, opening herself up, willing to start
      conversations, but all it seems the majority of the commenters here want
      to do is start confrontations.”

      Melanie, whenever you point your finger at someone, three of your fingers are pointing back at you. Let me translate what your fingers (literally, in the case of you typing those words on your keyboard) are telling you:

      Finger #1: In the meantime, Melanie, why can’t you take a live and let live attitude towards the commenters? They are coming here, being quite respectful of Mary, understanding her, engaging her, complimenting her, honestly expressing their personal opinions, but it seems the only thing you can see are attempts to ‘convert’ her. Some of your post sounds as bad as the crazy accommodationists who make dicks of themselves telling others, “Don’t be a dick.”

      Finger #2: Why are you addressing this to these ‘folks’, as if your criticism applies to all, many, or even a significant number of them? Why don’t you instead reply *specifically* to those comments/commenters whose behaviour you object to, so that we can see exactly what you’re talking about, instead of using vague, blanket accusations that appear to target all the commenters indiscriminately? Do you even have one specific example that you can cite as being ‘over the line’ so to speak?

      Finger #3: Who do you think you are, anyway, trying to ‘convert’ other commenters into your style of ‘non-conversionary’ … whatever it is? Do you recognize that such preaching comes across as offensively hypocritical? Why aren’t you gently sidling up to the other commenters, making ‘allies’ with them, and leading by example, instead of lecturing them like a sunday school teacher? How do you even know your accommodating approach is objectively better than a more confrontational approach? You seemed to have abandoned accommodationism in favour of confrontation in your efforts to ‘convert’ the other commenters. Do you even practice what you preach?

      Me again. I have no intention of drawing this into a long back and forth bicker-fest. I just wanted to lay clearly out in the open how hypocritical and offensive I and many others see these kinds of ‘tone it down’ pleas come across as.

      IMHO, no one on this thread has crossed any lines. I could see some testing, poking, and prodding, but Mary deJesus’ character shone through loud and clear, and that pretty much was that. To the ‘tone it down’ crowd, I say, no thanks, I’d rather ‘tone it up’.

      • Mary DeJesus

        Meow! :-)

  • Anonymous

    Mary, mind if I ask you a question? Do you believe in evolution?

    • Anonymous

       I can’t say I don’t believe it.

      • Charon

         I realize you’re answering dozens of questions, but it’s better not to answer at all than answer like this. Helpful answers would be: no [followed by explanation], yes [followed by explanation if you feel necessary - this audience won't feel it's necessary], or… I don’t know, I don’t know anything about biology and can’t judge.

  • Pure Guava

    I don’t get this post.

    If it’s supposed to help make me aware that some Christians know they are/have been hypocritical and that not every Christian is batshit crazy, I already knew that… kinda thought most did.

    As an atheist, it starts reading like this:

    I consider myself a believer in something unfalsifiable in the sense that I follow this belief, not just a general sense of nor the essence of, and their specific unoriginal claims.

    I do realize how absolutely insane that sounds, but I believe it.So, anything written past that, while “interesting to read”, is just noise. I can’t take it any more serious than an apologetic statement from a politician or a standard apologist…

    • Anonymous

       It’s pretty easy to assume you probably won’t like me very  much. So, might I save you some trouble and simply suggest don’t read my noise? :)

      With love, not fight, Mary

      • Pure Guava

        I don’t know you enough to like you or dislike you :)

        So, then I would have to ask you, what is your point?

        “I’m here to offer a faith perspective.”  Ok, good so far…

        “I do think I need a god. I have spent years away from religion, and have come back. “

        “I do realize how absolutely insane that sounds, but I believe it.”

        “I’m not a very logical person.” 

        It’s like a holocaust denier giving their “2 cents” in a room full of European Jews. 

        Clearly, I understand you have your opinions, but shouldn’t you come (first) with some evidence or at least be able to defend your views?

        I’ll I’ve read, so far, is THENDONTREADITWINKYSMILE.

        Just a humble suggestion, to help you in your future endeavors. 

        • Mary DeJesus

          I’m not here to defend my views. I’m here to comment on culture from a little-bit-confused-and-still-a-faith-based perspective…and you can base your perception of me from what I write. It’s really that simple.

          Winkywinkyface…that’s all I’ve got.

          • Pure Guava

            I know that.  

            (In a hilarious kind of way, with all their different denominations and whatnot, it could be argued that all of you are a little-bit-confused-and-still-faith-based…)I’m just saying, since your views appear nonsensical to most, maybe in the future it wouldn’t be a bad idea to do so.

    • http://profiles.google.com/conticreative Marco Conti

      @af63f381904ea3865df66266186ab075:disqus I get the feeling the post wasn’t written with you or me in mind. 
      It was pretty much noise to me too, but I think there are people with whom it may resonate strongly. Many land on the shores of atheism but stay close to their lifeboat. In Mary’s case sounds like she can’t yet get off but she needs to parse her ideas on her own and she shouldn’t be worrying about  what us crusty atheist think about it.

      • Pure Guava

        I’m wondering who was in mind. 

        Comes across as a self-deprecating reverse-strawman hybrid, basking it it’s own ironic unconfidence. 

        • Mary DeJesus

          I wish I could understand the superlongmetaphor you used but I simply can’t.

          • Pure Guava

            You know that guy or girl who says or believes something that totally makes them look or sound silly, but when confronted they just laugh at how odd they sounded, instead of recanting?

            “I’m so crazy! You know me, crazy so-and-so!”

            At first it’s kinda funny, but then it starts to dawn on you…”Oh, they’re one of those kinda people.”

            Unless they are ridiculously hot and your intentions are not pure. Then it’s ok.

            Speaking of ridiculously hot, like Nebraska upper midwest?

            • A Portlander

              “Speaking of ridiculously hot, like Nebraska upper midwest?

              PLEASE don’t knock over that domino.

              • Pure Guava

                ” …unless they are ridiculously hot and your intentions are not pure. Then it’s ok.”
                ” Mary DeJesus is a life-long church mouse (with the exception of a few years) in her thirties who lives in the upper midwest”

                I was just being a male…

                • Anonymous

                   Upper midwest people…upper. It snows here, yo. Nebraska is a tropical paradise.

                • Pure Guava

                  Did everyone completely miss me hitting on MDJ, in a typical chauvinistic way?

      • OkayWithThe

        The post itself kind of felt aimless, though. I was expecting some sort of perspective from the Bubble. Some sort of look at how insular and ridiculous the citizens of Bubbledom can be. All I got was “we’re insular folks, teehee”.
        At least she’s self-aware, so that’s something. Hopefully her next post is more focused.

        • OkayWithThe

          and I don’t mean just their ridiculousness. I’d like to hear more about their motivations. About what keeps them in the Bubble. What keeps the Bubble going. How the Bubble affects their worldview. You know?

          • Pure Guava

            Now that would be an interesting read.

            Well, in the non-typical and vague, “God/Jesus keeps me going” and “God/Jesus affects the eyes of my soul and how I view His creation”, kinda way, it totally would.

          • ABubbleist

            I suspect anyone who has the insight and moral integrity to analyize and identify those things would find that they are not in the bubble.

  • Anonymous

    Well, you’ve set yourself up for it, Mary, and I applaud your courage.  You’ve stepped into the atheist blogsphere an identifiable Christian.  But I’m sure you’re not so naive as to think everyone’s going to welcome you with baskets of wine and cheese.  Many will be so wrapped up in being “right” all the time that they’ll take every opportunity to condemn the irrationality of faith and attack its basis.  You’ll be condemned for unsubstantiated beliefs and cloistered attitudes, and railed against purely because you disagree with an opinion, often without sufficient regard to whether the disagreement is productive.  Who knows?  Maybe that even works for some people, some of the time.

    What many people who will decry the irrationalism of religious faith will fail to remember, though, is that none are immune to irrationality.  So let he without sin throw the stones. 

    Here’s an example.  Many secular citizens like me have failed to realize that if we were to play our secular values against supernaturalistic norms as some sort of numbers game, we’d lose.  We need allies among the faith communities to humanise the conversation and foster the cross-pollination of important ideas, and cross-connected religious people who can help spread a respectful and accurate portrayal of secularism, as much as religious people need connections to the secular community to show that they are just conflicted, passionate, sometimes crazy but often beautiful people — just like everybody else.

    You’ll take some heat, I’m sure.  But I for one welcome you and hope that you will not be so dismayed by reflexive animosity that you give up on the important work of finding common cause between all citizens, of whatever persuasion.

    • Anonymous

       THANK YOU. I do wish there was some wine and cheese. YUM. But that’s okay.

      You said it PERFECTLY:

      “We need allies among the faith communities to humanise the conversation
      and foster the cross-pollination of important ideas, and cross-connected
      religious people who can help spread a respectful and accurate
      portrayal of secularism, as much as religious people need connections to
      the secular community to show that they are just conflicted,
      passionate, sometimes crazy but often beautiful people — just like
      everybody else.”

      THANK YOU.

      • Anonymous

        You’re welcome :-)

  • Johann

    Welcome into the spotlight, Mary.  Semi-activisty, frequently pissed off anti-theist here, so long as we’re introducing you to what you’re getting into.

    With that said…thank you for writing this post. It’s a very rare pleasure to see someone who still believes take a step back from the giant mess of culture that has accumulated around those beliefs and poke it with a cynical stick. =) For me, this is the fourth time in about a decade, and I don’t exactly shy away from talking about these things.

    Do you know other people who share your views, or where they might be hiding? Their voice is sadly absent in public and policy discussions, while we have no shortage of the “anointed”.

    • Anonymous

       Thanks for this, Johann. We are out there. But obviously given my pseudonym, we are really afraid to come out as who we are. Which reminds me, I need to get Hemant to sign a non-disclosure and confidentiality agreement, or else I could lose my job. :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thaumas-Themelios/100001074236927 Thaumas Themelios

      “It’s a very rare
      pleasure to see someone who still believes take a step back from the
      giant mess of culture that has accumulated around those beliefs and poke
      it with a cynical stick. =) For me, this is the fourth time in about a
      decade, and I don’t exactly shy away from talking about these things.”

      That’s exactly what I was feeling, too.

      “Do
      you know other people who share your views, or where they might be
      hiding? Their voice is sadly absent in public and policy discussions,
      while we have no shortage of the “anointed”.”

      Hear, hear! We need these voices urgently.

  • Greg

    Welcome to the lion’s den, Mary! ;)

    There’ll probably be some people who are very challenging to you, here, I’m guessing (Hemant’s the ‘Friendly Atheist’, not necessarily everyone who is at the site…), but there’ll also be people like me who’ll read your posts, and might not say all that much, yet will still find it very interesting. 

    Don’t take it the wrong way, but as an atheist, seeing how theists think can be very interesting to me. I know that kind of sounds like I’m studying you in a science project  (well, maybe anthropology), but it’s just that it’s so alien to me. I really find it hard to understand how people think in that Christian Bubble you talk about. That’s not to say I wasn’t a Christian myself. I was. I was just an Anglican. (And sometimes I suspect that in America, Anglicans would be considered as being ‘godless’ from some of the stuff I read!)

    So… Welcome!

    • Anonymous

       Thanks. And that’s okay. I’m double majored in psych & sociology so I am constantly analyzing everything. :)

  • Winto_bungle

    as someone whos never had religion (i thank god himself for that one) i always wonder how anyone religious can ask their religion any ‘why’ question and come out with a satisfactory answer.

    surely if you have the intrigue, courage, intelligence and genuine interest in the answer then the illogical, bronze-age, brush over answer religion often gives you wont be enough.

    for me, religion has never answered a single question that cant be better answered somewhere else.

    • Anonymous

       Can you give an example of one of your single questions?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thaumas-Themelios/100001074236927 Thaumas Themelios

        Here’s one, abbreviated from a comment I made up-thread: Y do Ys exist?

        (Read the earlier comment for context if that didn’t make sense.)

      • Marylynne7

        Mary - 

        I  can give you an example of one of mine.  This is a question that was better answered outside of religion than with religion; as I think about it, I find it interesting because this is supposed to be one of the biggies that religion is for. 

        What is the purpose of my life? 

        When I was a person of faith, the purpose of my life was to glorify God.  As I got older, the purpose was to fulfill God’s plan for me.  So, I had to figure out what that was.  I prayed and looked for clues.  I would try to figure out if I was just doing what I wanted or if it was really a call from God.  Was I on the right track?   What if I was wrong and this wasn’t what God wanted from me?  

        After I lost belief, I realized that there was no fixed, outside pre-assigned purpose to my life.  There was no one out there judging if I did Life right or not.   There is absolutely a purpose to my life – it is whatever I say it is.  I generate it.  It is the “right” purpose because I say so.   No wondering, no angst, no feeling like a failure because of normal human emotions, reactions and feelings.  

        The purpose of my one and only life in this universe is to make the most of my life and my abilities, and to make the world a better place for others.   I actually have a philosophy and morality worked out consistent with this that I live by.  All without the need of a deity or promise of reward or punishment – but just because it is the right thing to do, it is how I would like others to act, and because I want the quality of life that comes with being a decent person.   

  • Anonymous

    Mary, I appreciate your honesty and your opening up yourself here. Sounds like you’re the “Friendly Christian.”

    I’m going to challenge something, and I hope you can accept this as a loving challenge and not an attack. I’ve also been in that “bubble” (but the bubble popped for me about 30 years ago), so I’m saying this as someone who feels like he’s already traveled the path you’re on.

    The problem with your approach is what you’ve identified as #2 – you realize that it sounds crazy, but still accept it. You still have faith, the acceptance of something without evidence, or in spite of evidence against it. You recognize this yourself. You need to realize that “faith” is the excuse religious people give themselves for believing something they know they shouldn’t.

    You’re almost there. Question yourself – why would you believe something without a reason? In any other area of your life, you would not do this. Why give religion a special pass? You need to recognize that you’ve accepted it because it was implanted in your brain at a time before you had developed the filter of critical thinking skills that would have allowed you to reject it, had you been exposed to it later. That’s the reason that religions can propagate; not because they make any sense at all, but because they’ve developed strict guidelines to indoctrinate children before the children have critical thinking skills. Any religion that didn’t do this would die out.

    So while it sounds like you’re somewhat on our side, working against those crazy Christians, in a very important way we view you as still on that other side, because of that faith thing. If you accept a core principle like that without evidence, you’ve unleashed your beliefs and actions from a rational grounding. It’s nice that you are taking the nice tactic, but the core issue is what guides your beliefs and actions, and not so much which specific set of actions you have decided to go with.

    Love you!

    • Anonymous

       Thanks for the love. I believe a lot of things without reason. I’m not a very logical person. That may piss some people off here. Again, more on this in future discussions.

      • http://www.facebook.com/motzben Ben Motz

        I wouldn’t say, “piss some people off,” necessarily, I think “exasperate” is better.  Speaking for myself (but I believe many others here feel the same), I take pride in being reasonable and I strive with every fiber of my being to do so with everything I do.  Because we care so much about this, it drives me (us) crazy when people ignore logic in favor of superstition, especially when they seem to recognize that it is just superstition. I know you’ve said you don’t want to discuss why you believe what you do in the comments section, and that is probably for the best.  But perhaps instead of opening up to us with this helter-skelter post about some random video that very few people here care about (other than to make fun of), it would have been more beneficial and less contrived to give an exposé of sorts on why you believe what you do (in spite of what feels like your own self-doubt).  I am looking forward to such a post in the near future.

  • Anonymous

    I’d ask you, Mary, to seriously consider and spend some time evaluating your response to the following:

    You were born in a Christian society, most likely to Christian parents. You were raised with this being absolutely the truth, as real as that the sky is blue. If you had been born in India, a Hindu society, to Hindu parents, you’d have been raised to believe Hinduism. Everyone would teach you, and you’d most likely accept, that it is as real as that the sky is blue. And you’d be equally sincere in your faith there as you are here. But it would be a different faith. How can you reconcile that the same kind of faith, the same kind of revelation, the same kind of “it isn’t rational but I believe it” sustains that religions, and all other religions? Can you claim that YOUR faith is more reliable or more sincere than a Hindu’s or a Muslim’s? If so, what allows you to do so? If not, can you really trust the accident of the location of your birth to determine the answer to this question? It was this line of reasoning that pulled me out of Christianity. And I don’t think it’s a question any believer can honestly and deeply consider while retaining their religious faith.

  • Mary DeJesus

    I’ll probably add this statement to my bio, but any questions asking me to defend why I believe what I do will be politely ignored. I’m not here to prove myself or be unconverted. I’m here to offer a faith perspective. If you can’t accept that, or think I’m somewhat lesser-than because of that, I’m sorry. I know that isn’t going to take care of all those comments but I thought I’d at least set that expectation.

    It’s no because I

    • Mary DeJesus

      My phone is dumb. To continue, it’s not because I can’t/won’t/don’t…it’s because THAT IS NOT WHY I AM HERE. Naturally some of these issues will be discussed as posts over time, but to continually repeat myself in comments is kinda silly, methinks.

      With love
      MDJ

      • Annie

        So then why are you here?  And yes, I’ve read your introduction… twice.

        “I’m here to talk about real questions that go through my head. Real
        criticisms I have and maybe (maybe) blow the whistle on some serious
        stuff that just isn’t right within the Christian community.”

        So from your introduction, and the post I’m commenting on, I’m guessing you’re saying that you are the only one that’s allowed to ask the questions?  Not being snarky, just trying to clarify. 

        • Pure Guava

          Pretty much.

          Although, offering a “faith perspective” is completely unnecessary and pointless, since you can’t/don’t explain or define it…   

          I’s like offering your perspective on your Flat Earth theory to a bunch of scientists.

          • Bo Tait

            I was never religious. I am interested in the faith perspective. I’m interested in what Mary has to say. Dialogue is good and she’s bringing that to the table.  A lot of good things come from interaction with reasonable folks.

        • Mary DeJesus

          Not at all…I’m here to discuss things from a faith perspective, my own being oft conflicted, and as you will see in multiple comments, I do answer questions. Just not every.single.one about why I believe what I do. I’ve been a part of this community for years and those conversations go….nowhere. Will I get into relevant meaningful discussions appropriate to the post? Yes. But I know every.single.time anyone from a faith background peeps, the same questions come out. Hemant asked for my pov on this video and I gave it.

          • Mike Williams

             Yeah, offering a “faith perspective” doesn’t seem that useful to me.  Any article by or about believers is already going to have a faith perspective.  Plus, most of us used to be believers and already have a decent grasp on how religious people approach the world.

            What is useful, and interesting, to me, is what causes someone to choose  to believe in something that they admit “sounds insane”.

            I know Hemant asked you to specifically comment on this video and I appreciate you doing so, but I don’t think this post offers much.  Perhaps in the future, we can get your faith perspective on things like atheist billboard and bus ads and what is most effective or misogyny in the skeptic movement.  You know, on a topic we wouldn’t normally be commented on by a believer.

            Honestly, though, why you believe what you do is far and away the most interesting and important topic for us to discuss.

            • Anonymous

               We’ll get there. This is my first post. :)

  • Rebecca Sparks

    The Christian Girls you know sound like this Mary?  Because the ones I know don’t really talk like this… specifically, they don’t talk about marriage and dating ALL THE TIME.  All but one or two comments in that video was about breaking up with a guy, dating a guy, being interested in guys,waiting for the right guy to come along…  Back when I was a regular church goer, that did not take up the bulk of our conversations.  
    I admit the girls I knew used Christian buzzwords and worried about God’s path for their lives, and interpreted signs to be from God… but they worried about volunteering at charities, college, career choices, reflecting God’s love in their daily life, choir practice, etc. Even the severely hormonally driven girls didn’t talk about guys 24/7.  The “Christian Girl” came of as hopelessly niave, boy crazed,  and self absorbe.  She’s a crude stereotype that describes no real person–like practically all of this meme’s videos.

    • Mary DeJesus

      In the places I’ve been, yes. They do. Which is why I have a male roommate. Who is not a Christian.

      Not everyone does…that’s the whole idea behind these videos on the whole. Does everyone in Chicago like Microbrews? Or does everyone in LA love In-N-Out? (I lived in CA and I hate the darn place).

      • http://profiles.google.com/conticreative Marco Conti

        Mary, I can justify the irrationality and the belief in deities. But hating In-N-Out? That’s blasphemy :)

        • Mary DeJesus

          They put Bible verses on their cups! I thought for sure they’d be boycotted in these woods!

      • absent sway

        But Mary, that’s what a hamburger’s all about!

      • Rebecca Sparks

        I’m not really fan of the S%t ___ people say meme.  Most of the videos seem to be mean-spirited stereotypes.  Many Xian women do talk about dating, but not to the extent that 90% of what they talk about is guys and dating.   I feel like this is a more harmful  stereotype about women than liking Microbrews or loving In-N-Out.  

  • Anonymous

    If I’ve understood clearly what you affirm as your beliefs, it sounds as if you are conflicted about Jesus “culture,” the reality of the Jesus “industry,” and the truths about yourself which you are uncomfortable examining in light of your beliefs.  From my atheist viewpoint, it’s truly ironic and very interesting to see this structure of Jesus-focused peer pressure to exemplify some stereotype of the biblical life that makes followers like you uncomfortable about shallowness and hypocrisy in this lifestyle.  It also highlights how insulting it is to be labelled as evil or hell-bound for failing to join or objecting openly to this culture of “superior morality”  being wedged into into politics as a means to mandate morality, an ironic paradox itself since choice would be eliminated by laws in a theocracy.

    I like that you are examining these things.  I just want to ask, sincerely, why do you need god?  If it is to lead you to living a good life, are you perpetually filtering out the talking points and scripts of evangelism in order to figure out what that is, or do you trust that you can simply do so on your own with humanitarian goals?  Does god provide comfort and support (as some, not all, of us grudgingly say is an “okay” purpose for religion)?  And do you believe he needs you, perhaps to defend him from his own fawning pretenders as well as heretics?

    Just food for thought, whenever you might broach these subjects.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for the honest questions and commentary and the tone in which you delivered them. I do think I need a god. I have spent years away from religion, and have come back. So, maybe that’s a topic for another day.

  • Sami Hawkins

    “I consider myself a Scientologist in the sense that I follow the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, do believe Lord Xenu existed and seeded the earth with thetans.

    I do realize how absolutely insane that sounds, but I believe it.”

    I know I’m just gonna get flamed for not being polite and ‘tactful’ but are we really gonna pretend we’d be taking someone seriously if they made the exact same statement about another legally recognized religion?

    If I wanted to hear a Christian perspective I’d go to work, come out of the closet and be immediately fired.

    • Mary DeJesus

      Or, you could just let people believe what they believe. Or, you could just not take me seriously. I’ll continue eating my lunch and the world will continue to orbit.

      • A Portlander

        That flippancy is exactly what pisses us off. We want to be free to not take you seriously, but you’re serious like a bullet.

        Go ahead and eat your lunch, but it’s not just about you, it’s about the millions of Christians who vote, donate, hire & fire, and make other decisions with society-shaping implications, all based on your internal struggle with a book of just-so-stories from the Iron Age. Your faction is holding us hostage to your surreal, groundless beliefs about the universe, and what’s worse is that you expect us to just laugh it off and go about our business. I don’t care whether your interpretation of Christianity causes you to feed the homeless and vote for gay marriage instead of burning black churches or killing your sick children with faith healing; the fact that ANY of your decisions can include the consideration of a magical disembodied brain’s take on the issue makes you a loose cannon, and the rest of us never know what’s going to set you off in a way that harms our civilization.

        I’m not telling you this to attack you, I’m trying to give you a straight, unvarnished look at how much of* the atheist community feels when you dip your toe in our pool, claiming that it’s okay to give you a pass because you’re not like *those* Christians.  Yes, you bloody well are, and the fact that you don’t see how/why is what both angers and frightens us.

        *Obviously, I’m not claiming to speak for every atheist.

        • Anonymous

           Judging from the rest of these comments, obviously.*

        • Mary

          While this post is not my style, you do have a point, especially this one, “the fact that ANY of your decisions can include the consideration of a magical disembodied brain’s take on the issue makes you a loose cannon, and the rest of us never know what’s going to set you off in a way that harms our civilization.”

          I’m not sure I would have even seen how important this point is when I was a Christian, but I do now. In many societies, the majority of people make rules for everyone. If the majority believe that the god zeus wants people not to drink lemonade on Tuesdays, then a Tuesday lemonade law pops up. If only the majority’s gods wanted such harmless things as lemonade laws. Unfortunately, they tend to condone everything from bombing innocent people to having slaves, to taking away vital personal freedoms, indoctrinating children, limiting the roles of women in society, etc. Religious belief systems matter very much in society. The fact that world leaders can justify their actions based on whatever religious books or invisible beings they choose to value is…well, all we have to do is take a look at the world’s most religious governments to see how it plays out.

  • Kaoru Negisa

    Mary, I think I sort of see what you’re getting at and I do look forward to getting your perspective. Most of this, while I found disagreement with certain statements, I can accept, but there’s one bit that I don’t quite get.

    “Because I am a Christian and I have made dumb decisions and tried to use Jesus as my PR schtick. I’ve name-dropped God to get my own way, I am no better or worse than the oversexed musicians, and I’ve even been drunk in an airport like the worship leader dude.”
    I don’t understand why your mistakes make it wrong for you to point out the mistakes in others. I’m no better or worse a writer than some of the people I edit, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t point out when a sentence is awkward or they’re telling instead of showing because I’ve done the same in the past. I’m also a lot better and vastly worse than some of the writers I edit, but that doesn’t mean that I should refrain from pointing out their mistakes.

    Atheists tend like like science, at least in my experience. Science is a continual process of looking at the work of others and correcting for errors. Einstein didn’t discard his work because he wasn’t any better a person than Newton.

    You don’t have to yell and scream by any means, but allowing people to believe something that isn’t true isn’t actually a virtue. It allows ignorance to flourish in the name of politeness. Have confidence in yourself enough that you won’t let people believe in things you know to be lies just because you don’t think you have a right to it. Knowledge gives you the right to attempt to educate others so long as you don’t try to force them. They can do what they want with the information, but denying it to them is far worse than offering it.

    • Anonymous

       Thanks. My own issues of

      a) not wanting to be judgmental (i.e., let’s get all Bible and “take the splinter out of someone else’s eye when you have a plank in your own”) or

      b) be seen as a hypocrite (as that is unfortunately one of our main flaws as Christians.

      c) i also have a tremendous dilemma asserting myself :)

      I am in the sciences educationally speaking, and appreciate your point. You’re spot on.

      (PS  – when, in the car with a relative, said relative said how much he/she enjoyed a particular Christian musician that came on the radio. I did burst his/her bubble by saying that indeed, this was one of the people who did try to get in my pants. My relative was horrified. It was kind of funny for me.) :)

      • Kaoru Negisa

        I can imagine they would be.

        Hypocrisy is a funny thing. We do all make mistakes, though, so if just being wrong at some point makes somebody a hypocrite for pointing out when somebody else is wrong, the word loses all meaning. Hypocrisy has to be holding people to standards that you have no interest in keeping. I would hope that you keep the standard for yourself that if you’re wrong about something, you’re willing to change it given new information, so it’s not hypocritical to provide new information to others and let them do with it what they will.

        As to being judgmental, I don’t see that as judgement. Judgement involves making a quality decision (i.e. “X is bad”). In this case, you’re not talking about right and wrong, you’re talking about true and false. You don’t have to say to people like you were describing, “Actually, X person is a hypocrite and a joke because they personally suggested to me that we do things with whipped cream that has nothing to do with ice cream sundaes.” You can simply tell them the facts: “That person talks a lot about morality, but they we caught doing blow off of their band-mate’s chest.” It’s not a judgement on the person, it is a fact, and it benefits by being a fact that doesn’t rely on scripture as support. If the person you discuss this with shrugs and decides to justify those actions or ignore them, you did nothing but provide them with facts, and they have every right to ignore them.

        I also have a lot of trouble asserting myself. Blogging has helped me with that a lot. %)

        • Anonymous

           That’s why I’m a secret blogger. Maybe I’ll learn something.

  • KMR

    Hi Mary!  A self-identified Christian here who is also a regular reader of Hemant’s blog.  Just wanted to say good luck and I look forward to reading your viewpoint.

    You are very brave ;)

    • Anonymous

       Brave or silly. :) Time will tell

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    Why do Christians want prayer in the public square? That’s always confused me. Matthew 6:5-6 very directly specifies against doing that.

    • Anonymous

       I don’t want prayer in a public square.

      (This could be the beginning of a Dr. Suess book.)

      Pray, do cartwheels, eat ice cream, pass out books on unicorns. I believe that’s the beauty of freedom.

      (And the Matt 6 reference, again…I think atheists take scripture out of context just as much as Christians do…!)

      <3

      • A Portlander

        That whole early half of Matthew 6 seems pretty consistent, both internally and with Larry’s point. What are we missing that makes those passages mean something other than “don’t use your religion as the basis for making a public display out of yourself; piety increases with privacy”?

        • Anonymous

           He was speaking to a particular demographic: The Scribes & Pharisees, who were known more for making a display for their own recognition than actually praying.

          • A Portlander

            Matthew doesn’t say he’s speaking to any particular demographic. When the sermon begins in Matthew 5:1, we hear about “multitudes” and “disciples”, which would suggest he’s either making a general address to a large mixed crowd, or preaching to his own sect with the hope of being persuasive to onlookers. What do you base this Scribes & Pharisees assertion on?

            • Anonymous

              Jesus was giving the sermon here and this was Matthew’s account of it. In the before Jesus died time, only priests and, well, “leaders” of the temple (The Scribes and Pharisees) were considered to have access to God. These people would pretty much flaunt that fact and say “look how holy we are – we’re priests!” in public.

              Wiki actually has a pretty decent account on this if you’d like to read further.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prayer_in_the_New_Testament

              After Jesus died, the veil in the temple (where “God was to be found”) was torn symbolizing the need for a priest or high priest was gone. Everyone had access (because Jesus was the sacrifice). Although clearly this was meant for symbolic purposes (people can be kinda hard-headed) since Jesus had told his followers (before his death) to pray.

              Jesus was pretty sarcastic and often called out the uber religious pretenders in his time. In public. They didn’t like it so much.

              • A Portlander

                “Jesus was giving the sermon here and this was Matthew’s account of it.”

                . . .

                Yes. The Sermon on the Mount. We’ve heard of it. My unidentified “he” was the same as your unidentified “he”.

                Question: do Christians really think atheists who live in an overwhelmingly Christian-chauvinist culture are simply ignorant of the Bible’s contents? I always thought starting off with “have you heard the good news?” was traditional rhetoric.

                Anyway, onward to relevant points.

                “only . . . (The Scribes and Pharisees) were considered to have access to God.”

                Perhaps only the professional religious complex, consisting of the Scribes and Pharisess (and Sadducces, son’t forget them), considered the Scribes and Pharisees to have that access, but if there weren’t a place in society for itinerant miracle-workers who operated outside the system, Jesus would never have gotten off the ground. Famous roughly-contemporary examples include Simon Magus (who conveniently plays the repentant pretender in Acts 8) and John the Baptist. (Apollonius of Tyana is usually mentioned in the same breath as these two, but though contemporary, he was a good deal further north.)

                Question: do the Christians you congregate with generally have any idea that people like Simon and Apollonius existed?

                “Wiki actually has a pretty decent account on this”

                Wikipedia’s reliability is inconsistent, religious entries moreso by orders of magnitude. I will, however, investigate the cited sources on that page. While we’re suggesting research, I recommend the bibliographies of Bart Ehrman and Robert M. Price.

                Question: what is your opinion of educated professional theologians who deconvert from Christianity and write books debunking their former religion?

                “After Jesus died, the veil in the temple . . . was torn . . .”

                This is something I really want Christians to understand: it doesn’t matter if your claim is as mundane as “a piece of fabric was torn”, if the source you’re citing also claims that the dead walked out of their tombs, reasonable people are going to want a corroborating source for the historicity of that torn fabric.

                Question: “After drawing the Sword from the Stone, Arthur became king in Caerleon. While he was there, he had a large round table built. After many trials, Arthur was ferried away to Tir Na nOg.” Do you believe a large round table was built for the warlords of  ancient Caerleon?

                This ended up longer than I intended. I’m not necessarily expecting a response, but I hope you at least have some idea of how many assumptions you expect us to give a pass to with every faith claim you make. “Jesus was pretty sarcastic . . .”–sure, as a literary character, we’ll accept that, but to get away with stronger claims requires more backing than you have. There are lots of reasons why we don’t believe, but this is why we aren’t *persuaded*.

                Cheers.

          • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

             Speaking to or speaking of? Doesn’t really make sense if he was speaking to them, but if he was speaking of them and warning against making a public display of their praying, I still see it as contradictory of how so many Christians want public praying. They purposely do it as a public display. The Cranston school board meetings or Damon Fowler’s graduation as examples, they were very clearly praying loudly and publicly to be recognized as a unified majority. If this reference was a warning against behaving like “The Scribes & Pharisees” then why do people insist on doing this?

  • absent sway

    Welcome, Mary! I appreciate your guts for participating in an atheist blog while believing.

    • Anonymous

       Thanks :) I’m not easily scared. Annoyed, yes. Scared, no. :)

  • Jeanette

    I commend you for being able to criticize the parts of your religion you don’t like or find offensive. There’s certainly a lot to find offensive in the way Christianity is generally practiced in our culture.

    But there’s a huge misunderstanding here. Most of the people here aren’t atheists because we’re offended. We’re atheists because it’s true. We’re atheists because believing the Christian god is necessarily inconsistent with what we know to be true about the world.

    You sound like a smart person. You sound like a nice person. I commend you for your politics, which seem factually based. But that doesn’t mean I respect your religious beliefs, because those are still wrong. They don’t get to be special and exempt because they’re religious claims, which I think you understand. What you don’t understand is that an “I’m not like *those* Christians” attitude doesn’t make your beliefs immune to criticism either.

    Also, not that I’m a psychologist but it appears you already know your beliefs are inaccurate, based on saying you “know it sounds insane”. I don’t think it sounds insane at all. It sounds like that’s what people have been telling you since before your earliest memories and now you’re realizing you have to fundamentally change your understanding of the world and that’s scary. The probable nonexistence of a deity doesn’t change though.

    • Anonymous

       Um….while I do respect your opinion, I would never tell you “you’re wrong.” But evidently you must contain some higher level of awareness I’ve yet to reach since you’re able to dish it. I never said anyone was an atheist because they were offended. I never said anything about why anyone here has chosen to be an atheist. I’m here because the people who run this site know me and wanted me to contribute and I’m happy to do so. So. Yup. I kinda do have a right to be here, otherwise I wouldn’t have a password to post stuff :)

      I am (technically in the process of) becoming a psychologist and while I have made my decisions about my beliefs, it doesn’t mean I’m not self-aware or that I don’t ask questions. I’ve done a lot scarier things then change my beliefs (which I have done before) but that’s neither here or now. It’s late and I’m cranky when it’s late, so…my apologies, but, kinda not really either. I’m just saying what I need to say as you did. And I thank you for it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/motzben Ben Motz

    Alright.  While I want to extend the olive branch by saying welcome to our community of heathens, I am torn by the fact that the post made no sense.  Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t seem to grasp the purpose of it.  Was it to bash the “Shit _____ Say” series? Was it to complain about things that Christians actually say?  If this was your purpose, it seems disingenuous considering the fact that you peppered it with your very own list of “Shit Christians Say” while explaining your feelings about Jesus.  I am very open minded and welcome other viewpoints readily, but you seem to be taking yours too seriously given the forum, and I’m not sure it works.

    • sara

      For lack of a better work, ‘amen’.

    • Anonymous

       I think most of the commenters here (eh, 80%?) do a fair job of explaining everything for me and bridging the language gap…so…if you still have questions after perusing the conversation, let me know.

      • http://www.facebook.com/motzben Ben Motz

        I asked the question because I see a lot of conjecture on the purpose of this post, but I don’t really see any answers from you.  I appreciate that you are able to put yourself out there in hostile, for lack of a better word, territory.  I’m just confused on what you want us to get from this, as I think many (eh, 80%) of us are, and I’d rather hear it from the horse’s mouth rather than from a bunch of commenters’ analyses.

  • Bo Tait

    After the article and her comments, I’m definitely a Mary fan. Keep it up, Mary. Cause you know what they say…

    http://www.blogcdn.com/www.urlesque.com/media/2010/05/hatereagle.jpg 

    • Anonymous

       <3

      • Bo Tait

        I think it’s safe to say your first post is a huge success. Almost 200 comments just for your introduction. And the way you’ve been in the comments teasing everyone with tidbits of info. Well done. 

        I think you’ve got just about everyone hooked now. The easily aggravated, the converting specialists, the lurkers, the been there done thats, and the straight up Mary fans. Everyone will click the link for your next post.  Mary knows the blog business.

  • Sara

    This post reminds me of my high school youth group.  Just awful.  Aren’t there enough christian gossip blogs for this girl to post in? 

  • Anonymous

    Okie doke. I thank you all for letting me into your world (whether you liked it, hated it, saw it pointless, whatever…) I still thank you and I’m grateful. Truly. I considered it an honor when Hemant asked me to contribute as a Christian here. I know I’m in strange territory for me. I don’t understand where everyone is coming from and I know that’s a mutual sentiment.

    Because I am also in school and work and do normal life things (oh, AND go to church – of course!) I wish I could spend all day and night on here, but I can’t. So I’ve committed to respond the best I can on the day I post and after that, it may be a while before I check back in.

    But I will be back, and I will be writing more and I’m thankful for your open minds, comments, snark, sass, and opinions.

    Blessings to you all. (That is sarcasm…I don’t actually say that in real life).

    xxMDJ

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=593717582 Alexa Joy

    I’m not too big on having “faith perspectives” featured on this blog;  most of us are more than familiar with what sort of perspectives various Christians have.  Sometimes, we open atheists get to hear Christian “perspectives” (and that’s putting it very nicely) more than we’d really want to. Christianity is the dominant culture in our Western society, so the views of believers are more than well represented. MJD seems really kind, but I don’t think she’s quite examined her Christian privilege yet. I’d rather see Friendly Atheist as a sort of atheist safehaven, and, luckily, I can just scroll past this sort of thing to achieve that!

    • Marguerite

      I agree. Though I appreciate Mary taking the time to write this post, this isn’t the sort of thing I stop by Friendly Atheist for, and in the future I’ll just skip posts of this nature.

    • ara

      “but I don’t think she’s quite examined her Christian privilege yet”

      this. absolutely this.  
      I’d like to highlight a response she made previously in the comments about only being interested in “tactful” responses as a fine example of her unexamined privilege.

    • BinaryStar

      Yet another voice agrees with you, Alexa Joy. I second everything you said, and I’ll add one more: a few of Mary’s responses to comments have had a rather snarky tone. I would recommend that she turn that down a notch in her future replies, so as not to be seen as lacking the “Christian humility” so many of her co-religionists (ironically) like to proclaim.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chris.wonderboy Chris Pata

    Is it me or do theists stop by because they can´t find their answers elsewhere? I know it sucks to be insecure. Mary sounds like a theist breathing her last, almost to become an (….)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LNWAM4DYCN4MLBLHFGDHE2YKZM GloomCookie613

    You seem like a really nice person and I’ve no doubt that your ovaries are made of titanium to even post here, I’m just not that into you/your writing.  Good luck with it though! :)

  • Celianna

    I like this particular comment you made:

     

    “But you won’t hear them from me.”

     

    Because it says just about everything
    there is to know about you. I don’t mean that in a condescending way, not at
    all, but I hope you are familiar with No True Scotsman fallacy? It goes like
    this: everyone will always claim they are the true Scotsman. Whenever a
    Scotsman does something bad, that is not in line with their own view of
    thinking, they’ll hand-wave the incident by saying ‘But he’s not a true
    Scotsman, that’s not how we all think or act like, so don’t judge us by the
    non-true Scotsman.’.

     

    That’s basically what your post sounds
    like. You ramble about your fellow Christians, pointing out the stupid and
    ignorant things they say – but you’ll never say those things yourself. Because
    you’re a True Christian, truer than them at least, and that’s not how most
    Christians act like.

     

    There’s nothing wrong with thinking like
    that. No one wants to be wrong, and everyone always think they’re right. Those
    Christian girls you talked about? Yeah, they think they’re a better Christian
    than you, they think they’re the True Christian here, and you’re the one in the
    wrong.

     

    That’s how it goes, it’s human nature to
    think one is right and anyone who does not conform to their ideals is simply
    wrong.

     

    I won’t lie and say it’s not true for me,
    because I am an atheist, and yes I think you’re wrong. Obviously, since you are
    a Christian, you think I am wrong.

     

    Everyone has got their own beliefs on what
    makes a True Christian (the funny thing is, this still occurs with atheism,
    despite atheism simply being the absence of belief in a deity), you’ve got your
    own, and half the world has got theirs – and no two ideals are alike.

     

    So why is this? Why do those Christian
    girls you talk about have a different view of Christianity than yours? Surely,
    you’ll all reading the same bible, right? So then why do your views clash?

     

    The good thing is, you’re already asking
    why.

     

    The answer is pretty simple: because you
    are the one who chooses what to believe and what not to believe. Regardless of
    your religious affinity, or lack thereof, you are the one in control of what
    you believe. Some Christians think gay marriage is okay, some think it is not.
    Some think evolution is true, others think creationism is true. Those conflicting
    oppositions, despite still calling themselves Christians, is because at the
    core of it, we are humans and we are the ones in control of what we believe in.

     

    Well, that is, if you question things and
    aren’t completely brainwashed and trained to not question anything. One doesn’t
    have to look further than Westboro Baptist Church to see the brainwashing (and
    despite that, there are still individuals who questioned their views and left
    the church) and what it does to a person.

     

    Keep asking why we believe in different
    things, curiosity is normal, and should always be encouraged, and never struck
    down.

     

    If you do keep asking why, sooner or later
    you’ll come to a point where you make a decision. Whether that decision is to
    stay a theist, or to convert and become an atheist, that is your choice. We all
    make our own choices, so I wish you good luck with your journey, and never stop
    questioning things.

    • Celianna

      Alright, something went wrong with the formatting of my comment, I apologize.

  • Marylynne7

    I think a comment string disappeared.  Someone said something like, “I had questions that were much better answered outside of religion than with religion,” and Mary DeJesus said, “What questions?” 

    Mary - I  can give you an example of one of mine.  This is a question that was better answered outside of religion than with religion; as I think about it, I find it interesting because this is supposed to be one of the biggies that religion is for. What is the purpose of my life? When I was a person of faith, the purpose of my life was to glorify God.  As I got older, the purpose was to fulfill God’s plan for me.  So, I had to figure out what that was.  I prayed and looked for clues.  I would try to figure out if I was just doing what I wanted or if it was really a call from God.  Was I on the right track?   What if I was wrong and this wasn’t what God wanted from me?  After I lost belief, I realized that there was no fixed, outside pre-assigned purpose to my life.  There was no one out there judging if I did Life right or not.   There is absolutely a purpose to my life – it is whatever I say it is.  I generate it.  It is the “right” purpose because I say so.   No wondering, no angst, no feeling like a failure because of normal human emotions, reactions and feelings.  The purpose of my one and only life in this universe is to make the most of my life and my abilities, and to make the world a better place for others.   I actually have a philosophy and morality worked out consistent with this that I live by.  All without the need of a deity or promise of reward or punishment – but just because it is the right thing to do, it is how I would like others to act, and because I want the quality of life that comes with being a decent person. 

  • Jerelyn

    Honestly, I’ve struggled with all these questions and more. People are my passion – when I was a baby my mom said I used to smile at people on the subway until they smiled back and would then move on to the next person; by 6 I had a grand master plan to build a neighborhood for homeless people who wanted to get their lives back, but didn’t have the opportunities (before I realized the concept of money); in fact (if you’ve never heard of strengsthfinders it’s really rather cool) 4 of my top 5 strengths (things I naturally gear towards and enjoy) fit into the test’s relational category. Growing up I was extremely devout without prodding from my parents. My mom actually once had to tell me to “stop reading the bible and come watch the movie,” and though I didn’t understand it, I read the bible by 8 years old. When I was 4 my dad had committed to spending every morning for 45 minutes in bible study before going to work, and one morning decided to sleep in. I don’t remember any of this, but apparently I went in, woke him up, told him “God says he wants to spend time with you,” and went back to bed. They asked me later what happened and I told them God woke me up and told me to tell my dad what I told him. They asked if I heard God’s voice audibly; I said “yes” but frankly wasn’t very concerned about the whole thing. I moved states and was excited to go to a christian school, but found out no one was all that interested in God except me. My mom felt like God wanted me to go to a public school, and though I absolutely didn’t want to (I thought my elementary school friends and I would be bffs so how could I separate from them?), I eventually agreed. Best decision of my life. I moved states again in high school which was heartbreaking, but continued to keep in touch with my closest friends (one of which I’m certain is life-long). By this time, I had already become seriously disturbed by some of the questions I had about Christianity and the bible – and though I saw no problem with God himself, I couldn’t understand how his nature must be good if these things reflected so poorly. I actually sat down overwhelmed at one point and had a stream-of-consciousness session wondering about how there could be so much suffering and inconsistencies and all that. I spent a lot of time weeping over these issues, struggling with them, and getting mentored by my dad’s friends (all of which were actually extraordinarily helpful), but I wasn’t fully satisfied. To this day I still can’t understand so much of this belief and I want so badly to understand. Though quite a few of my issues were cleared up by going back to the original language or learning about the context it was written in or seeing what was added in (sexism, slavery, even adam and eve) I still can’t possibly accept others. I would be an atheist, but I’m not. The only thing holding me back are things that make atheism impossible. My sister’s transformation was one (I had no hope for my sister – I won’t go into the depths of how bad this really was) and a dad’s friend with a prophetic gift felt like he was supposed to come pray for her, having never met her or even speaking to my dad in 10 years. He flew from California, prophecied over, prayed with, and talked with her for 8 hours (she had never talked to anyone trying to “help” her for that long), after which she gave her life back to God and then didn’t go back. I couldn’t even comprehend how happy she was reading the bible for 5 hours at a time, and my jaw literally dropped when she would say “I love you” or “I’m sorry.” She’s since had some pretty incredible things happen to her which I can’t explain by logic. Miracles and healings I had heard about sometime in high school, and was a bit skeptical, even when my dad would go to India or Africa and come back with amazing stories and testimonies, even meeting people who had been raised from the dead (I thought they were staged too, until I heard how many there were, most poor, doctoral records showing death, and couldn’t add up motivation). I continued being skeptical until it happened to people I knew – my mom who had back pain all her life was completely healed; an athletic friend of mine who LOVES sports, um, well I’m a little fuzzy on the details because he wasn’t very open about it, but apparently they found out he had an extra vertebrate and with the way things in his body were developing, he wouldn’t be able to play sports or do anything rigorous at risk of paralyzation. He got prayed for, and they found out a week later that it disappeared, the doctors unable to explain. I’ve witnessed things come out of nowhere before my eyes (I’ll probably stop here with the things I’ve seen because I don’t want to sound crazy or odd…to be honest though, it is all a little crazy and odd, and I don’t believe at first either usually). There’s a much darker side to Christianity too, a lot of which can be revealed in satanism; and demonic activity and possessions might not be common in the U.S. or other first-world nations, but they occur all the time. I wouldn’t believe me if I hadn’t let all this grow on me, and it can be a bit overwhelming. I still have problems with the doctoral law of the bible and questions about his nature, but I have to let those things rest within me to be answered later (hopefully) simply because what I’ve seen isn’t explainable without at least some kind of theistic or out-of-body presence. I WISH ALL THIS MADE SENSE! I WISH I KNEW THE ANSWERS! But the more I learn, the more questions I have, honestly. 


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X