An Interview with Mary Johnson, a Nun Who Worked Under Mother Teresa and Later Became an Atheist

Twenty years ago, Mary Johnson was a nun.

In fact, until 1997, Johnson was serving as a nun under Mother Teresa in the Missionaries of Charity. In her time with the woman excoriated by Christopher Hitchens in The Missionary Position, she travelled Europe, trained other sisters, and studied theology.

Since leaving the order, Johnson has married, written a book (An Unquenchable Thirst: Following Mother Teresa in Search of Love, Service, and an Authentic Life), and become a non-believer.

As a former Catholic who heard in her childhood about the self-sacrifice and kindness of Mother Teresa’s ministrations to the poor… and was later disillusioned when, as an atheist, she was faced with the facts, I was especially excited to hear from Mary.

Mary Johnson

Could you describe your religious journey?

I think my religious journey has four stages.

Child Mary: God is my best friend. I play priest in the backyard, saying Mass with Kool-aid and potato chips.

Teenaged Mary: God is my truth. I see Mother Teresa on the cover of TIME magazine and sense God calling me to a life of adventurous service as a nun.

Nun Mary: God speaks through my superiors (or so they say) and I try to obey. Sometimes God feels close, mostly life is full of sacrifice and struggle. I am a naughty nun, but I last for twenty years.

Now Mary: I think my own thoughts, am responsible for my own actions and no longer believe in God. Life is an adventure again.

How would you describe your faith, or lack thereof, now? 

I believe in mystery. I believe that we shouldn’t pretend to know what we don’t and that we should ask a lot of questions. I believe that we’re all connected, that every human action affects each of us, that living well means making the world a better place. I believe honesty is more important than tradition, that fostering the common good brings more happiness than self-aggrandizement does. Life is full of meaning and frustration, joy and fear, love and uncertainty — and I enjoy wading into the midst of it all.

There’s been a bit of an upset over the recent conversion of atheist-turned-Catholic blogger Leah Libresco. While she claims her conversion was based on moral study, there’s been a lot of discussion about the reasons people join churches. What do you feel are appealing characteristics of the Church to those who convert?

People who convert to the Church often seek community, meaning, structure, purpose, ritual, and a way to connect with something larger than the individual self.

I don’t know Leah Libresco personally, so I won’t presume insight into her motivations, but through her blog she impresses me as someone open to dialogue on life’s important questions. Sincere seekers are often painfully aware of holes in their current philosophies — and every worldview that pretends to answer every important question does indeed have holes somewhere because it’s overreaching. So a worldview that seems to fill the irritating holes in a previously held philosophy can be very appealing, especially if it claims not to be subject to human limitations.  When I was Libresco’s age, I placed my faith in the God she recently embraced. I’m curious to see where Libresco will stand as she comes to terms with the enormous holes in the Catholic worldview.

Many atheists find the ritual of church to be comforting — Richard Dawkins himself has spoken of attending church to enjoy the beauty — do you still find comfort in the parts and trappings of your old religion?

I lived as a devout Catholic for forty years, and spent fifteen of those in Rome; that sort of experience gets under your skin and seeps into your bones. Though I don’t go to Church anymore, sometimes I find myself humming hymns or referencing the Beatitudes. Sometimes I miss the power of Christian stories — particularly rituals connected with Holy Week, which address deep human longings and hopes. I believe that humans need ritual and art and encouragement. I’m in the process of becoming a Humanist celebrant so that I can help people celebrate weddings and births and funerals in a secular context. I’m encouraged that people like Alain de Botton and Greg Epstein and Miriam Muroff Jerris are taking on the challenge of creating meaningful Humanist rituals without supernatural references.

You had doubts that eventually drove you to leave the Missionaries of Charity. What contributed to these?

I didn’t leave the MCs because I doubted God or the Catholic Church — that came later. What I doubted was that God wanted me to remain an MC. As two powerful sisters pulled the community very far to the right, I found myself increasingly at odds with the community’s direction. I also developed a relationship with a sister, then with a priest. I realized that I wanted intimacy and that I couldn’t lead a double life anymore, so I made a deal with God. I promised to keep all the rules for a year; if at the end of the year I felt I could remain in the MCs and still be true to myself, I would stay and never think of leaving again. At the end of the year it became obvious to me that the MCs wanted my obedience, not my creative ministry, and that they would allow no independent thought. I left the community so I could be myself.

What countered those doubts; what made a case for staying with the Missionaries?

I stayed for twenty years because I believed God had called me. God could ask anything of me, no matter how unreasonable. He had asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, had asked Jesus to accept crucifixion. Faith is irrational. Any injustice can be justified by a theology that says, “Suffer now and God will reward you in the next life.”

In 2003, Mother Teresa was beatified, an event you attended. How do you feel about sainthood for her?

Becoming a saint was the only approved ambition for a Missionary of Charity. In every MC refectory throughout the world, there’s a photo of Mother Teresa, with this quotation from Mother underneath: “I will give Saints to Mother Church.” Once, Mother told us all to “hurry up and die” because Pope John Paul II was “canonizing everybody.”

I’ve never known anyone more dedicated or more self-sacrificing than Mother Teresa, nor anyone who wanted to be a saint more than she did. That said, Mother Teresa was not the wisest person I’ve known. The danger in canonizing her is to idealize the way of life she outlined for her sisters as well as her particular style of ministering to the poor; both are in need of drastic revision. So many of the practices of the Missionaries of Charity are inimical to human growth. Sometimes we harmed the poor by our incompetency.

Mary Johnson in her time as Sister Donata (left, in glasses)

Do you think the Catholic Church does more harm than good in the world?

The Catholic Church has a two-thousand year history of liberation and oppression, education and superstition, inspiration and exclusion. Today, in areas of the world where the rights of women and children and the poor are routinely denied, or where medical and educational facilities are woefully inadequate, the Catholic Church can provide a step up — when it’s not acting as a tool of repression. It’s clear to me that much of the Western world has outgrown the Church, though Church members often remain fiercely attached to a group they consider family. I believe the Catholic Church is becoming less influential, and I think that’s a good thing.

The Catholic Church has been getting press recently, as nuns receive support for protesting orders from the Vatican. Do you think the Catholic Church will change significantly in our lifetimes? If so, how?

The Church hierarchy is becoming increasingly less tolerant of dissent while Catholics in the pews are thinking more for themselves. The American sisters who have been reprimanded by the Vatican are brave women and I’ve been vocal in my support for them, with pieces on Bloomberg View, Huffington Post, the Daily Beast, the Washington Post blog, and other places. This summer the American bishops have gone on a rampage about “threats” to their religious freedom, but they won’t give the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) freedom to examine issues thoughtfully, demanding the sisters support the bishops’ agenda. At the same time, the Vatileaks scandal has revealed Machiavellian maneuvering among cardinals and bishops at extremely high levels.

Last Friday, the LCWR met to form a response to what amounts to the Vatican’s hostile takeover of this leadership group that represents 80% of American nuns. The sisters seem to think this moment holds a possibility for real dialogue with Rome. Catholics and non-Catholics throughout the world have expressed support for the LCWR, so perhaps they have a chance, but I don’t have much hope for real change. I can think of few systems more dysfunctional than the Roman Catholic Church — Iran, Uganda, the followers of Warren Jeffs. It’s hard to reform a dysfunctional system, especially one that’s been around for two thousand years, reaches into nearly every country in the world, and claims divine infallibility.

What message would you like to send to anyone who is sitting in a Church pew right now but may not believe in Catholic doctrine?

Trust yourself. Find someone to talk to who will listen to your doubts with an open mind. Realize that those who pronounce on doctrine are human, just like you are. Find a community that will nourish you and in which you can be yourself without pretending, whether it’s at your gym or in a book group or an atheist or Humanist organization. Is remaining in the Church worth losing your soul?

Mary Johnson’s book, An Unquenchable Thirst: Following Mother Teresa in Search of Love, Service, and an Authentic Life, is available in bookstores and online.

About Kate Donovan

Kate is a junior studying psychology and human development at Northwestern University. She is the president of Northwestern's Secular Student Alliance and a writer at Teen Skepchick, Heresy Club, and various other places around the internet. Sometimes she sleeps.

  • Smjones1971

    As a former Catholic, Mary’s words mean a lot to me. She is obviously thoughtful and intelligent.

  • randall.morrison90

    In the very last sentence she talk about losing your soul?

    What soul?  Doesn’t she realize that as an atheist she has no soul, that she is just a bag of chemicals that will stop reacting, dry up, and disintegrate?

    This is it; she apparently has not faced that.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IKVVNPKPMBDXQJDAIREAS5IQLM Mike

       “…just a bag of chemicals that will stop reacting, dry up, and disintegrate?”

      That’s it exactly, Randall. Glad to see you got it.

    • Logan Rockhound

      Mostly, water, actually.

      • Stev84

         Ugly giant bags of mostly water

        • Patterrssonn

          Speak for yourself Steve, I like to think of myself as a fairly attractive bag of mostly water.

      • Arnoca02

        Water is a chemical.

    • vexorian

      You know, there’s a good chance she used “lose your soul” as a figure of speech. That sort of thing sticks in your language after decades of being Catholic.

      So, an alternative interpretation: She could be talking about losing your identity, or about selling out. But maybe you are right and she still thinks we have souls.

      • Sindigo

        That’s what I thought.

    • Mary Lynne Schuster

      The important thing is to focus on that one comment so you can disregard everything else she said.  

    • V1paradise

      I was thinking the same. I had that confused dog sound in my head like wtf?!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1236820759 Stephanie Martin

      I do not think when she said the word “soul” that she meant it literally..As an Atheist myself I use the word “soul”on occasion metaphorically speaking..

    • Aaron Scoggin

      Or maybe she’s an atheist who believes in souls?

      Me – 1, You – 0

    • The Other Weirdo

       I don’t see why an atheist can’t use the word ‘soul’. As we are routinely told by Christians, it’s just a metaphor for something else.

    • http://twitter.com/_MaryJohnson Mary Johnson

      Thanks to everybody for the interesting discussion! Just to clarify, I don’t believe in souls as spiritual “parts” of us that remain alive after death. Sometimes language can be woefully inadequate. I’m pretty sure Sam Harris doesn’t believe in spirits, but even he has admitted he can’t find a better word than “spirituality” for some purposes. http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/a-plea-for-spirituality/ Since the question was about what I might say to someone sitting in a Catholic pew who had doubts, I think the use of “soul” could be appropriate.

  • Guest

    While it might mean ‘atheist’, some of what she said makes you wonder.  She still uses terms that sound a bit like religious speak, and that could mean less atheist than something else – a modern ‘seeker’ maybe?  There are some who claim atheist today that sound far less atheist than, say, 30 years ago would have sounded.   Obviously trying to  be measured, and not plunge into rants and slams and over-the-top raging against the religious machine.  I noticed, though, that one reason she didn’t give for people embracing a religion is that they think it is true.  There are those who do so.  Overall, a good interview.

    • Sunnyhorse

       I agree. We all like it when religious people start asking questions and aren’t sure of themselves, but I notice that many of us don’t extend the same approval and generosity toward people of our own number when they don’t toe the line in the way that some people think they should. It’s counterproductive, it’s nasty, and it ought to stop. Mary’s obviously a kind, thoughtful woman, someone I’d be proud to count as a friend.

    • allein

      Just out of curiosity, do you purposely use the name “Guest”
      or is there something about the comment system that is causing it to show up that
      way? I wonder because in a few recent threads there have been (at least) 2
      people posting under the name “Guest” that are clearly not the same person.
      One I assume is trolling (I don’t think you are that one, but you could be yet
      another Guest).

    • Patterrssonn

      Since she spent several decades as a nun it’s not really surprising she uses “religious speak”, it’s her vernacular.

      I don’t know how you can be less atheist than someone else since an atheist is simply someone who doesn’t believe in the existence of gods. Unless you take the perspective that Christians are atheist with respect to all the other gods and self professed atheists just take that one god further. In which case we’re all atheists to one degree or another.

      And again since she was a nun for so many years, it’s highly unlikely she wouldn’t know what it means to call yourself an atheist.

  • AxeGrrl

    As someone who was never a believer, it’s fascinating and stimulating to hear a onetime-believer talk so intelligently and articulately about the process of losing her faith…..

    and her saying “I believe in mystery. I believe that we shouldn’t pretend to know what we don’t” seems to illuminate one of the fundamental differences between believers and non-believers ~ namely, the need (or lack thereof) to ‘fill in the blanks’ when faced with an incomplete story.

    • Guest

      I don’t know.  I never saw non-believers as not filling in the blanks, they simply fill them in with different assumptions.

      • Glasofruix

        Like scientific theories instead of magic skyfairies?

        • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

          I think it would be better to separate people into the categories of rational and irrational. Rational people tend to be non-believers, but non-believers are not necessarily rational.

          Rational people fill the blanks rationally, which includes leaving them blank when necessary. Irrational people are the ones likely to fill the blanks with false information- whether they are believers or not.

          • 3lemenope

            Something about that dichotomy strikes me as too convenient, because it smuggles in with it the (often but not always) unjustified assumption that modes of thought other than rationality are inherently defective. Because something comes as the conclusion of some process other than a rational argument, it does not follow that that conclusion is false, or the information that lends weight to the conclusion is false.

            • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

              I use “rational” and “irrational” in their more formal senses here. I’m not convinced that irrational thought processes can ever consistently produce correct conclusions; when they do, I think it’s accident (or the process wasn’t entirely irrational… after all, even people who might be broadly classified as irrational utilize rational thought processes as well… and vice versa).

              If you have another set of words to suggest, I’m open to that. But I think “rational” and “irrational” are vastly better than “non-believer” and “believer” in the context of this discussion.

              • onamission5

                I have met (and am related to) some believers who are extremely rational– in every other area of their life except the religious one. That one is chalk full of confirmation bias and magical thinking. Everything else may be subjected to abject scrutiny but to their religious beliefs they apply (to use a literary term) suspension of disbelief. There is no depth in their questioning, just the will to believe, the deep emotional need to feel a part of something greater than they are. So long as that feeling remains, little to no examination of those beliefs will take place.

                It’s sort of amazing, really, not that I admire it so much as it’s utterly fascinating to me.  

          • MATT DIXON

            Yes, I love the “rational thinking-person” concept…like the Darwinian evolutionist concept of breaking the human race into races which lead to “civilized” people believing that Aboriginals were sub-human and putting some in zoos!!!! Very rational!

            Talk about filling in the blanks! How about that “evolution of man” diagram. Where are those missing links? Glad the “Human Genome Project” (which supported the Bible’s pronouncement of one race) has helped dispel the evolutionist racist concept of “Caucasian superiority” that led to the murder of millions! Those rational NAZI’s and their Arian superiority.

            • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

              …like the Darwinian evolutionist concept of breaking the human race
              into races which lead to “civilized” people believing that Aboriginals
              were sub-human and putting some in zoos!

              That has never been a component of evolutionary theory. You are confusing actual science with the misuse and misunderstanding of science for social or political reasons. Do you think religion hasn’t been misused in the same way?

              This comment, and your missing link comment, simply demonstrate that you know nothing about evolutionary theory, and are way out of your depth here.

              • guest

                …and there you have it.  Evolution is a “Theory”.  There is absolutely no proof.  Even Darwin had doubts.   The “lucy” theory was never proven either.  The skull of “said” being was found a mile away from the skeleton that they “assumed” belonged to the skull.  

                Matt is right.  Science continually proves The Bible as fact.

                • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

                  Evolution is not a theory, it is an observation. Natural selection, its variants, and other more complex explanations are theories which we use to describe how evolution occurs.

                  No theory is ever proven, they are simply judged on the weight of supporting or contradicting evidence. The predominant theories explaining evolution are overwhelmingly backed up by multiple lines of evidence, and contradicted by none. That, of course, is why every intelligent, well educated person treats evolution as a fact.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  There is no “lucy theory” and wherever lucy lies in the evolutionary tree of life, every fossil is a ‘transitional’ fossil.  There is not such thing as a ‘missing link’.  More importantly although an out of place fossil could disprove evolution, that has never happened.  Likewise, “The Human Genome Project” that people like to keep mentioning on here (or more accurately molecular biology) could easily disprove the common descent theory.  If, that is, it were untrue.  But since it hasn’t, it seems overwhelmingly likely that the theory of common descent is true.

                  Funny how the theists on this thread keep side stepping that little fact.

                • Glasofruix

                  Have you ever read the definition of scientific theory? We’re kind of getting tired of idiots who think of it as a baseless supposition.

            • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

              The Human Genome project proves that not not only do all humans share a common ancestor, but all life shares a common ancestor.  Yes, you are my distant cousin.  But so is (albeit more distantly) a chimpanzee.

              If you want to quote the Human Genome Project, you should really understand the full implications.

              And as for Hitler, equating Nazism to Evolution is kind of like equating the Spanish Inquisition to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

              (ok, it’s more than just the Human Genome Project, for both of our statements it’s really molecular biology in general)

            • Patterrssonn

              Hey Matt, it might help to argue against evolution if you knew something about it. Try a book written by a scientist, instead of say some religious polemic. It might add a little validity to your argument  I doubt anyone here can be swayed by gibberish.

              And also it’s not helpful to bring up the Nazis the vast majority of whom were christian and also with Hitler being a creationist. To save argument about the whole atheist Hitler thing here’s a little Hitler quote for you. “For it was by the Will of God that men were made of a certain bodily shape, were given their natures and their faculties.”

        • MATT DIXON

          Never met a magic skyfairy…don’t believe in them but I do believe in the One who is truth and how His truth destroys man’s “facts.” I live across the street from the field where the Wright brothers launched their “flyer.” The “fact” at the time was that man could not fly…the “truth” was we would.

          I find it thrilling that the Bible has spoken for over 2000 years (the Hebrew Scripture for over 3200) of all people coming from 1 race while for over 120 years evolutionists claimed there were many, only to have the Human Genome Project recently report that there is indeed, only 1 race, with less than .01% difference between people groups.

          The Bible spoke of ocean currents, a round earth, specific stars that could not be seen without a telescope 10000′s of years before man’s science “proved” it!

          Science continues to prove what the God of Creation has said for 1000′s of years. I trust Him and don’t need to fill my mind or time with useless malarkey that people dream up. 

          • Nessa10259

            Well you’ve convinced me. Convinced me that you have no knowledge of science or your own religion, that is. Congrats on the uninformed opinion though.

          • Wintermute472002

             I’m curious. Please provide chapter and verse where the bible refers to starts which couldn’t be seen by the naked eye. I’d also like to know how you can be sure the bible predicted a round earth before the Greeks determined it empirically (which was probably about 2500 years aso).

            Please, enlighten me.

          • Glasofruix

            This is so full of shit i don’t even know where to begin…

            Never met a magic skyfairy…don’t believe in them but I do believe in
            the One who is truth and how His truth destroys man’s “facts.”

            See, magic skyfairy right there.

            I find it thrilling that the Bible has spoken for over 2000 years (the
            Hebrew Scripture for over 3200) of all people coming from 1 race while
            for over 120 years evolutionists claimed there were many, only to have
            the Human Genome Project recently report that there is indeed, only 1
            race, with less than .01% difference between people groups.

            Smart scientists, since Darwin were trying to get to religious folks that humanity is only one race, but those religious folks kept arguing that such or such population was an inferior race because of the skin color.

            The Bible spoke of ocean currents, a round earth, specific stars that
            could not be seen without a telescope 10000′s of years before man’s
            science “proved” it!

            I’d like to see those passages, because according to the bible Earth was flat and skyfairy created the stars as tiny little lights and not giant balls of fire far far away from our planet.

            Science continues to prove what the God of Creation has said for 1000′s
            of years. I trust Him and don’t need to fill my mind or time with
            useless malarkey that people dream up. 

            Just because thinking by yourself is a hard task for you doesn’t mean that whatever idiocy you believe in to avoid brain activity is true. I’d like to see those bible passages that were “proven” by science…

    • http://www.kellyjyoungblood.com/ Kelly J Youngblood

      As someone who has pretty much always been a believer, I actually found that paragraph fascinating, because to me, mystery is not incompatible with belief (but maybe I’m abnormal).  I know there are many, many Christians out there who have to fill in the blanks, but I don’t know why.  I’ve often wondered if personality type has anything to do with  what people do/don’t believe but I’ve never bothered to do any research on it.  Like, for example, someone who is, say an  ISTJ might be more the type to have to have the facts and have a faith (or not one at all) that is black and white, whereas someone who is an INFJ (like me) is more comfortable with mystery.  

      • AxeGrrl

        Can you explain what the acronyms ISTJ and INFJ mean, Kelly?  I’m assuming they’re different forms of Christianity?

        • Kate Donovan

          They’re actually types from a personality test, the Myers-Briggs. They’re supposed to convey how you process information and interactions, etc, but they have very little validity. Unfortunately, they continue to be in use. 

          • http://www.kellyjyoungblood.com/ Kelly J Youngblood

            Regardless of how scientific or valid they are, I know I have found them (and other personality information) helpful in how to understand/get along with coworkers.  

            • Guest

              And there you have it. “It doesn’t need to be valid! I’m going to use it anyway!”

              • http://www.kellyjyoungblood.com/ Kelly J Youngblood

                That isn’t *quite* what I meant.  It may not be valid in a scientific study type of sense, but it can still be helpful.  It’s like in literature, when someone uses metaphor, or writes a poem.  It may not be something that is factually accurate, but it can still be helpful in bringing understanding to something.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

            I find with any of the social sciences, it is very difficult to consider them valid simply because human thoughts and interactions are not easy to document or measure. That doesn’t mean they don’t have any use.
            The Myers-Briggs tests typically seem unreliable because people usually get them at work or in a class where they fill out a quick questionnaire with “yes” or “no” answers and then they get their personality type, and it kinda, sorta describes them. It works best when you can read up on what each letter means and choose each one yourself. I find that mine fits me perfectly, but every time I take the test in a class, it gives me a terrible answer.

            • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

              Kind of like your blood pressure, it can change throughout the day as well.  I’m always ‘I’ but some days I’m a lot more ‘J’ than others.

              • http://exconvert.blogspot.com/ Kacy

                 It’s not quite the same as blood pressure.  Each of the types is more E/I; N/S; T/F; P/J, works as a continuum.  Someone can be a strong extrovert, for example, or a person who is stuck in the middle, drifting between extrovert and introverted tendencies.  Very few people fall at the extreme ends in all 4 categories, and of course personality changes with experience as personality evolves and develops.

                Each time I’ve taken the test, I’ve consistently been a strong S and a strong J.  I’m usually a strong T too, but my scores on the E/I quadrant seem to fluctuate.

        • http://www.kellyjyoungblood.com/ Kelly J Youngblood

          Oh, sorry.  No, they are the Myers-Briggs personality types:  
          http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/  I don’t even know if it is possible to study it but it would be interesting to see if certain types are more drawn to religion (in general) and then within whatever religion, if certain types are more drawn to a particular expression of that religion.

      • AxeGrrl

        This is purely anecdotal, but among my friends, there seems to be clear divide between the believers and non-believers when it comes to their reaction to ‘ambiguous’ films……..especially films that don’t have a clear/resolved ending.

        I don’t have an issue with such films, if the ending is consistent with the integrity of the storytelling/character development ~ but for the believers in my circle, such films always drive them nuts!

        As I said, this is purely anecdotal, but it fascinates me.

        • http://www.kellyjyoungblood.com/ Kelly J Youngblood

          That is pretty interesting.  I don’t see enough movies anymore (I have two young kids) to even try to think of examples of either type and what I think of them, but maybe I’ll try to give it some thought throughout the day.

          • AxeGrrl

            Well, one film that comes immediately to mind (because it’s a specific one that one of my believer friends ‘reacted’ to) is “Under the Sand”(‘Sous le Sable’), a french film starring Charlotte Rampling…..

            My friend enjoyed the film in general, but absolutely hated the ending (I loved it and thought it was completely in keeping with the story/character)

            • Patterrssonn

              You’re comment makes me think of “Three Crowns of the Sailor” by Raoul Ruiz. Everything about the film is ambiguous, everything from the characters to the staging and lighting is in a constant state of flux.

              Also if you want to drive your  ambiguity hating friends nuts you should get them to watch Antonioni’s “The Passenger”

              • AxeGrrl

                Hey, thanks for the suggestions, Patterrssonn :)  i’ve been meaning to see ‘The Passenger’ for ages and I’m completely unfamiliar with ‘Three Crowns of the Sailor”!

                *perking*

            • http://www.kellyjyoungblood.com/ Kelly J Youngblood

              I’d never heard of it, but just from that brief description you linked to, it sounds like one I would like to watch at some point.  Plus, you’ve got me curious about the ending!

              • AxeGrrl

                Well, Charlotte Rampling is always a treat to watch (and she looks FAB for her age:)

                But just remember, if the end credits roll and you’re saying “that’s it?, I warned you! ;)   but hey, if you ever do see it, I’ll be happy to discuss it with you to explain why I think it was ‘fitting’ :)

                • http://www.kellyjyoungblood.com/ Kelly J Youngblood

                  I’ll add it to my “movies to watch” list, but most of the movies I ever watch these days are only those appropriate for 2-5 year olds ;)

        • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

          That is an interesting observation! I’ll have to try this on people I know. You might be onto an interesting social test here.

          (For the record, I love ambiguous films, but my wife doesn’t. We’re both solidly in the non-believer camp, but I’m reflective and my wife isn’t… so that’s something to consider, as well.)

          • AxeGrrl

            We’re both solidly in the non-believer camp, but I’m reflective and my wife isn’t… so that’s something to consider, as well

            Interesting :)  it would be fascinating if someone did a study on this…..a person’s reaction to ambiguity in general (and especially in the context of resolutions (or lack thereof)

      • http://exconvert.blogspot.com/ Kacy

         Speaking as an ISTJ, I like for there to be some sort of internal consistency to my own believes and actions.  I’ve tried various branches of Christianity, but I gravitated towards those that were more traditional and had more of a systematic theology and dogmatic philosophy behind them (Calvinism, then Catholicism).  I stepped away from these once I saw the inconsistencies in my church’s beliefs vs. what I had studied about the world in science and in living my own life.  This began my de-conversion process.  From my understanding the ST combination really favors consistency, and I find this true to my personality.  If I hear something like “mystery” or “paradox,” I try my hardest to solve it or figure it out and adjust my life accordingly.

        • http://www.kellyjyoungblood.com/ Kelly J Youngblood

          I think that makes a lot of sense…and why I wonder if anyone’s ever really studied the connection :)

    • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      I’m a little suspicious of anybody who is comfortable with “mystery”. It is human nature to seek answers. The sort of answers a believer is willing to accept may be very different from those of a non-believer, but the need for answers is the same.

      An irrational person (as all believers are in a significant way) is often willing to fill gaps in knowledge with whatever comes along; a rational person admits to not knowing and leaving the gap… but only for as long as necessary. She doesn’t stop looking and simply accept the mystery.

      • Pascale Laviolette

        You have to be comfortable with at least SOME mystery.  Some things are unknowable — the difference is, atheist don’t (or shouldn’t) pretend to have answers to those questions until evidence becomes available.

        • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

          I’m not convinced that anything is unknowable. That may be true, or not. Maybe the only thing unknowable is if anything is unknowable :)

          But I don’t have to be comfortable with the mystery of things I don’t know, if by “comfortable” you mean willing to accept not knowing. I love mystery, because every mystery is an opportunity to learn.

          My comment earlier was in reference to anybody willing to simply accept something as a mystery and leave it at that.

      • AxeGrrl

        I’m a little suspicious of anybody who is comfortable with “mystery”. It is human nature to seek answers.

        You’re suspicious of anyone who’s honest enough to say “I don’t know” when there’s isn’t enough ‘known’ to claim knowledge?

        I quoted this from Mary: “I believe that we shouldn’t pretend to know what we don’t” precisely to underscore this point.

        • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

          I hoped I made it clear in my comment and the subsequent one that I have no problem at all with somebody admitting they don’t know something! My problem is with those who are willing to stop looking because they are too comfortable with mystery.

          I wasn’t referring to her words, which were good ones, but to yours (which I may not have understood), which referenced a lack of need to fill in the blanks of what we don’t know. The folks I’m suspicious of are those who don’t feel that need. Of course, it goes without saying that I have no respect for those willing to fill in the blanks when they don’t actually have anything solid to fill them in with!

          • AxeGrrl

            My problem is with those who are willing to stop looking because they are too comfortable with mystery.

            Thanks for that specific clarification, C Peterson (and I just saw your other comment now)

            And anyone who holds a speculative belief and has officially ‘stopped looking’ because they’re comfortable with their position qualifies as having a closed mind, as wonderfully explained in this fantastic vid by QualiaSoup:

            “Open-mindedness”

          • MATT DIXON

            You are really uncomfortable with people who have faith in God or most any stance that opposes your total belief in believing just about anything else.

            I find it thrilling that the Bible has spoken for over 2000 years (the Hebrew Scripture for over 3200) of all people coming from 1 race while for over 120 years evolutionists claimed there were many, only to have the Human Genome Project recently report that there is indeed, only 1 race, with less than .01% difference between people groups.

            Science continues to prove what the God of Creation has said for 1000′s of years. I trust Him and don’t need to fill my mind or time with useless malarkey that people dream up.

            • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

              What about how the Human Genome project confirms that Chimps are more closely related to Humans than to Gorillas?  How exactly is that handled by Genesis?

            • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

              What about how the Human Genome project confirms that Chimps are more closely related to Humans than to Gorillas?  How exactly is that handled by Genesis?

            • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

              Yes, nothing quite like blindly confirming your utterly foundation-free belief in an imaginary sky fairy with temper issues to shut off the critical, analytical part of your mind. You can’t be entirely faulted though. Human beings evolved that way, to place more trust in your heuristic thinking than in the slower, rational part of your brain.

              So you can take comfort in the fact that you’re just wired that way, because it helped us as a species survive for millennia.

            • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

              What I said is that I’m suspicious of people who are not interested in answering questions in their minds, who are too comfortable with the mystery.

              I’m not uncomfortable at all with people who have faith in gods, or use religion (especially Biblical religion) to answer their questions. I just think they’re foolish in this respect.

            • Robertfallen

               All of you people are missing one huge fact in all this.
              The bible was written after the fact, and was written by the most notorious liar in all of history “man”
              If you read a book does it become true?

            • Glasofruix

              I see you got into the “xtian repetition” mode, you don’t have a valid argument so you keep bashing the same bullshit until some idiot agrees with you.

            • John Lynch

              You need a little more research on evolution. The planet has been proven to be four billion years old and our DNA is is connected to the species that came before us.   

      • Mikebartram

        She is not saying you that you should ‘stop looking’.  Quite the opposite.  She is wise enough to accept that no one will ever know everything, and that the mysteries that we do look into often remain just that, at least for a time – mysteries.

        • AxeGrrl

          While we’re on this topic, it’s a great time to toss out this real gem of a song by Iris Dement for those who may have never heard it before ~ the words are sooooo bang on, imo  :) (for anyone who really can’t stand country music, just google the lyrics :)

          “Let the Mystery Be”

      • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

        I’m a little suspicious of anybody who is comfortable with “mystery”. It is human nature to seek answers. The sort of answers a believer is willing to accept may be very different from those of a non-believer, but the need for answers is the same.

        Hmmm, I’m not sure about this. I’m a lifelong atheist. I don’t believe in gods because I’ve never seen any evidence of the supernatural. But I can’t say that I’m really driven to find answers. It’s not particularly relevant to my life, so while I don’t dwell on “mystery” (sounds a bit woo-ish), neither do I feel a pressing need to fill in the blanks.

        • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

          That’s a mindset I simply can’t relate to at all. But then, I’m a scientist, so it’s my nature to seek answers.

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            There should be a strong correlation between being a scientist and seeking answers, but I don’t think it’s a causation.  If anything, a desire to seek answers being “in your nature” is more likely to lead one to being a scientist.

            Come to think of it “it’s in my nature to seek answers” sounds like a fortune cookie.  

            • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

              Yes, it’s sort of a chicken-or-egg question.

              • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                also a touch of jealousy because although I’m driven to seek answers, I’m not a professional scientist, even though I have the word ‘science’ in my degree

          • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

            I’ve thought for a while that lifelong atheists probably have more of a mix of personality types than atheists who were raised to believe in gods. The latter group has to actively take steps to discard a belief system that they were taught was true, while the former never developed it in the first place. I think people in the latter group probably have more skeptical personalities and more of an interest in science. As a child, I was more interested in reading or drawing than in figuring out the secrets of the universe. Science just didn’t intrigue me.

            • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

              Hard to say. I’m also a lifelong atheist, but I was born to be a scientist (neither of my parents were scientists). I’m told my first words were “marine biologist” (but I became an astrophysicist).

              I think science is something of a calling. Most of the other scientists I know were already on that course as small children. Most are atheists, both lifelong and acquired.

      • Belllien

         I think that religion is the crutch of those who are uncomfortable with mystery. One doesn’t need to go seek answers when they can all be answered by “because God says so” or “because God wants you to”. To me, the very fact that she left the church signifies that she hasn’t stopped looking, she just stopped looking there.

    • http://www.facebook.com/curtis.owings Curtis Owings

      She didn’t lose her faith–she found it.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/47IDX2QAR6VU6ZAILFU6I23ACQ Joseph

    A very engaging interview — intelligent, thoughtful, honest.  I imagine her book will be very interesting reading, especially for those ex-Catholics among us.  

  • Itsatrap 1987

    I realized that Catholocism, and religion in general just can’t be correct at 9 years old.
    The age when fairy tales should lose their validity.
    Now, as an Adult, I fimrly believe that ANYONE who believes in relgion and magick like this beyond the age of 12, should be given a serious talking to, just to make sure they understand REALITY.
    Relgions scare me, because they create Religious Extremists, and the MOST terrorism in North America is done by RIGHT WING CHRISTIAN extremists.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Catholic Vatican is behind political assassination plots.

    • Bo Tait

      Ya man. Religion is inherently evil! Its not like its just a tool which can be used for good or evil depending on who’s using it.  Oh no. Religion has an *agenda*.   

      • Pascale Laviolette

        Religions may not have agendas, but clergy do — and religious minds are ripe as hell for the picking.

        • Bo Tait

          Exactly my point. Its people. Not religion.  There is nothing human made not touched by agenda.  
          Politicians have agendas, therefor down with all government! 

          A hammer can build a house or crush a skull. Depends on who’s swingin’.

          • AxeGrrl

            Exactly my point. Its people. Not religion. There is nothing human made not touched by agenda. 

            Uhm, what do you think religion is?   It’s human made.  And definitely “touched by agenda”.

            Given that, on what grounds/basis are you excluding religion here? 

            • Bo Tait

              I’m not excluding religion. I’m calling it a tool. Used in ways decided by the user.   
              The original comment was that religions create extremists.  
              No, they don’t. People use religion to create extremists. People also use religion to create support systems for the less fortunate.

              Same tool, different use, which is decided by the agenda of the user.

              • AxeGrrl

                Ok, I was just curious because you said “it’s people. Not religion“….as though religion is somehow separate from people.

              • Patterrssonn

                Religions do create extremists, just like any system based on ideology.  Ideology gives you permission to ignore the morals and codes that bind other people, as you have access to a higher truth/power.

                You can argue that religion can also make people act better, but unless you can show that religion is necessary for compassion or kindness then this is irrelevant in the face of the great evil produced by religious thinking.

                • Bo Tait

                  So all of the good done by the religious can be swept under the rug if someone proclaims it could’ve all been done without religion anyway?
                  Maybe it could have. But that’s just not what happened. Religious people did a lot a great things. They didn’t just happen to be religious and good people. For a lot of them, they did good things because their religions called for them to do so.
                  Conversely, a lot of people did bad things for the same reason. 
                  Its. Just. A. Tool. 
                  Some tools are simple and don’t have much use or power.  
                  Religion has a lot of uses and a ton of power. Use for good, you get a lot of good. Use it for evil, you get evil.
                  Truth is, you can learn to be a great person by being a church-going-god-lover.
                  Not a popular view on these types of forums these days, I know.  

                  How Bad Atheist of me.

                • Patterrssonn

                  Perhaps it’s not popular because it’s not very accurate.

                  For one thing using tool as an analogy for religion is no more accurate than calling it a virus. It’s contagious, it mutates, and it uses people as hosts, instead of using our bodies to replicate it uses our minds. You could also describe religion as a drug, like heroin it can make you both happy and miserable, it’s very hard to quit, if it’s illegal it can have a devastating impact on your life. Etc etc

                  So while I agree that in some ways religion can be described as a tool it’s much much more than that. Also another facet of religions is that they all depend on the acceptance of lies. And I find it very hard to believe that anything that depends on people believing in lies is morally neutral.

                • Bo Tait

                  You’re right, it’s not accurate. You simply cannot become a good person through religion. Impossible. Despite the evidence of millions of good, albeit flawed,  religious people in the world, you must be right because…well cause you said its not accurate. 

                • Patterrssonn

                  Bo did you make it past the first sentence of my post?

                  If so do you have a response to my argument? If not why did you bother to reply?

                  I’ll see if I can keep it simple this time.

                  If you accept that religion can inspire people to do good things, which I’m sure it can, does this outweigh the tremendous evil caused by religion? And not only that does the “good” justify the fact that religions depend on the spreading of lies. Isn’t that in itself a bad thing. If you have a point to make, please reply to an earlier post of mine as this thread will soon be unreadable.

                • Bo Tttait

                  I’ll concede the point. As an atheist I can’t really justify a tool based on misinformation, which religion has to be considering the thousands of variations. I’m not sure it really matters though. Religion can’t be eliminated for being based on lies. The believers are sure of their t(T)ruth and shit goes sour when you take it away forcefully.

                  Based on lies or not we are stuck with it. And I think secular culture has got a good lid on the negative effects that religion can have. The real problem is having an ideology that answers to no one. I suppose religion is not as harmful or dangerous as theocracy.

      • Glasofruix

        Uh, the specific purpose of religion is to control as many people as possible, whether by fear or ignorance.

        • Bo Tait

          Well, obviously. Which is why a religious community has never fostered a liberation/ rights movement.  

          • MATT DIXON

            Your comment tells me education is obviously not a trait of atheist.

            Christians “liberated” the United States of America as she was discovered by and founded by Christians. Even today, America is the symbol of “liberation,” what we call freedom.

            Christ fostered the liberation of the slaves in England and the United States. Both movements were led by Christians.

            Christians “liberated” the uneducated, both male and female, by founding 122 of the first 123 colleges or universities in the United States.

            The first 220 years of education in the USA was Christian based, resulting in a literacy rate nearing 99%.

            Christians “liberated” music by creating the “western” (read “Christian”) system of notes and chords.

            Christians “liberated” medicine, science, hygiene etc as the earliest of scientists, doctors, mathematicians and explorers were professing Christians. 

            Christians “liberated” the world from illiteracy as missionaries have taught millions to read and write world-wide.

            The greatest art of all time came from Christian artists.

            Even now, the great minds of science are “proving” what the Bible has stated all along. For instance the Bible speaks of 1 race and the Human Genome Project just confirmed that indeed there is only 1 race. 

            • Patterrssonn

              Not to mention the countless millions Christians liberated their lives from or the millions more they liberated their liberty from.

              Also it’s funny how now that they have a choice people are liberating themselves from religion, perhaps the greatest liberty of all is the liberty of the mind.

            • Bo Tttait

              I guess I was a little too subtle with the sarcasm. I’m aware of these things. I don’t need a lesson.

            • Glasofruix

              Christians “liberated” the United States of America as she was
              discovered by and founded by Christians. Even today, America is the
              symbol of “liberation,” what we call freedom.

              Huh? You mean by killing off the original populations and stealing their land and other shinies?

              Christ fostered the liberation of the slaves in England and the United States. Both movements were led by Christians.

              And yet, those who weren’t against slavery were also christian, and there’s more: they used the bible to justify that because, shocking revelation, the bible condones slavery.

              Christians “liberated” music by creating the “western” (read “Christian”) system of notes and chords.

              And how’s that specifically christian? It’s like saying “christians liberated the language by inventing a way to write words”, they just went with the flow.

              Christians “liberated” medicine, science, hygiene etc as the earliest of
              scientists, doctors, mathematicians and explorers were professing
              Christians. 

              This is where it gets funny, because before christians got to the power, ancient greeks, romans and egyptians got surgery and advanced medicine, public baths for personnal hygiene, sewers and water distribution systems in their cities, heck they even got crude steam engines and some sort of democracy. Then when those empires fell (because of greed and their territory being too large to handle) the dark ages came and the notion of medicine and hygiene disappeared altogether. It was taught that taking a bath was bad for health, it was forbidden (by the church) to practice surgery and the most advanced notion of medecine they had were leeches and various bleeding methods. The streets were filled with filth and diseases because the sewer and water distribution systems were forgotten. We started to make progress a couple of hundreds of years ago, only because the religious grip loosened. Btw, before christians even got their hands on mathematical concepts, muslim thinkers were already manipulating complex notions, so the “liberation” of science is not a christian thing. Btw arguing that every scientific discovery of that time is a christian thing is stupid, because being a non christian posed some health hazards when the church held the power.

              Christians “liberated” the world from illiteracy as missionaries have taught millions to read and write world-wide.

              They also forced themselves on populations that never asked to be “educated”, i don’t call religious indocrination of the unwilling “liberation”.

              The greatest art of all time came from Christian artists.

              See not being religious and health risks. Also it’s like saying that the greatest art of all time came from muslim artists while talking about islamic parts of the world.

              Even now, the great minds of science are “proving” what the Bible has
              stated all along. For instance the Bible speaks of 1 race and the Human
              Genome Project just confirmed that indeed there is only 1 race. 

              This argument was dismantled two times already and you’re still insisting on it. For somebody who claims to have the “truth” you ignore a lot of things about history.

    • Tomhoustn

      “MOST terrorism in North America is done by RIGHT WING CHRISTIAN extremists”

      Huh? Could you back that up. Putting aside the Moslem terrorists; on Sept 11, and the earlier attack on the WTC (in which a dozen people were killed), and Ft. Hood etc., the biggest terrorist attack in the U.S. was the avowed Atheist Timothy McViegh.
      As to Christian terrorists, I can only think of the 8 people killed in attacks on abortion clinics. So how is MOST terrorism in North America by Christians?

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        I didn’t know about McVeigh, so I just looked it up.  It doesn’t sound like he was driven by religion, but I’m don’t think he was an ‘avowed Atheist’ either.

         In a 1996 interview, McVeigh professed belief in “a God”, although he said he had “sort of lost touch with” Catholicism and “I never really picked it up, however I do maintain core beliefs.”[84] In the 2001 book American Terrorist, McVeigh stated that he did not believe in Hell and that science is his religion.[87][88] In June 2001, a day before the execution, McVeigh wrote a letter to the Buffalo News identifying as agnostic.[89] Before his execution, McVeigh took the Catholic sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick 

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_McVeigh#Political_views_and_religious_beliefs 

        http://www.start.umd.edu/gtd/search/Results.aspx?country=217 is the only public comprehensive DB of terror incidents I’m aware of, and the data is kind of messy and hard to quantify.  There are a lot of incidents by groups like ALF and ELF, so I’m not sure it’s fair to say that most attacks are by RW Christian extremists.  It also depends on whether you want to compare just number of incidents or severity of incidents.  I do think it’s fair to say that left wing extremists tend to target things while right wing extremists tend to target people.

    • MATT DIXON

      And non-religious people are never extremist???? Let’s see: Atheist Chinese government has killed over 52 million people, atheistic Soviet government 27 million, atheistic NAZI Germany government murdered over 42 million. All of these deaths happened in one century.

       Atheistic governments murdered more people in the 20th century than all previous centuries since Christ lived (known as the age of  “Christian-dom”) combined. 

      WOW, can’t wait to see what these rational thinkers can do this century!
      Your misapplication of the word “Christian” to murders who call themselves by that name is the equivalent of me calling myself a “car” because I sleep in the garage.

      A Christian is one who lives by the teachings of Christ as He changes them daily into someone who looks more-and-more like Him. It is a lifelong process filled with daily failures and successes. The joy comes through relationship with Jesus, not “score keeping” based on rules and rituals.

      Strange how atheists get so upset when Christians fail but demand we all follow a “religion” based on a moral standard no higher than the best man can do. Those results are covered in paragraph 1.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        Nazi Germany was not atheist, and as horrific as they were, they didn’t not kill 42 million people.

        ” the equivalent of me calling myself a “car” because I sleep in the garage”

        Congratulations.  You understand causation vs. correlation.  Which is why I assume you’ll understand that being an atheist and killing people is usually a correlation, not a causation.  Usually being a Christian and killing people is also a correlation, but it can be a causation as well.  I’d venture that the causal relationship is more common with religion than with atheism.

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    The Church hierarchy is becoming increasingly less tolerant of dissent while Catholics in the pews are thinking more for themselves.

    That really sums things up… and not just with respect to Catholics, but many U.S. Christian sects, as well as the growing divide between extreme conservatives (political and social) and everybody else.

    The times they are a-changin’, and when that happens conservatives dig in, trying to hold their privileged ground. In so doing, they become more extreme, alienate more people, and ultimately become part of the mechanism of change. When the conservatives have real power, their growing intolerance can produce real pain and hardship until they die away; where their power is less, they simply come across as pathetic. In the long run, they always fail.

    • MATT DIXON

      People become more intolerant of any authority that does not accept their concept of morality or perversion. The battle between good and evil has always circled around mankind’s love for self-pleasure and the resulting rebellion when God (or any other authority) does not bend to their “whim-of-the-day” morality.

      God has given us commandments to help us stay within the boundaries of healthy relationships. Everything God says in the Bible comes from a heart of love and compassion founded on mercy. People just get angry that He will not change from His holiness to accommodate their rebellion.

      Sure, “the” church makes mistakes as we too are humans. Every evil on this planet has been done by people, not by God Himself. If you blame Christians acting badly on God, to whom to you credit atheists acting badly? Hmmm, I would say “mankind” since you think humans are the highest expression of morality.

      I have read all the arguments of atheists before, none of this is new…the Bible clearly defines them and I too lived that life for many years.  The “times” aren’t a changing…people are simple doing exactly what the Bible prophesied would happen in these days.

      Funny how athesist are fulfilling the Word of God, something they profess to not believe yet are bringing to fruition! I ‘ve read the end of the Book: God wins!!!!

      • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

        There is no battle between good and evil, and an increasing number of people realize that the vast majority of “commandments” found in the Bible are either ridiculous or immoral.

        Society is changing, as it always does, and no force exists that can hold it back. That is why this kind of conservatism always fails. There is no exception, in all of recorded history. Religious conservatism in the world today, especially in the U.S., is playing a big part in the rapid shift of people away from Christianity completely, and into the “none” category, if not the “atheist” category.

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          I think the “playing chess with a pigeon analogy” can be accurately applied at various times to both atheists and theists, but I think present company is a clear example of the latter.

      • Patterrssonn

        “Funny how athesist are fulfilling the Word of God, something they profess to not believe yet are bringing to fruition!”

        So we’re all happy that religion is dying excellent.

      • Bellien

         Humans are the ONLY expression of morality. It only happens to occasionally coincide with the word of your God. If that makes you happy, great. Enjoy it.

      • Glasofruix

        God has given us commandments to help us stay within the boundaries of healthy relationships.

        How not cooking a baby goat in its mother’s milk helps us having healthy relationships exactly? Also please provide the commandements, i’m sure there’s abig surprise for you in there.

        Everything God says in the Bible comes from a heart of love and compassion founded on mercy.

        Oh yeah, he’s so compassionate and merciful when he commits genocide. He’s so merciful and just when he mauls children to death for mocking a bald man. I can continue, but you get the idea.

        Funny how athesist are fulfilling the ramblings of a skyfairy, something they profess to not believe yet are bringing to fruition!

        And what exactly are we fullfilling? Examples with sources please.

        I ‘ve read the end of the Book: God wins!!!!

        I can see the proble if you’ve read only the end…what about all the naughty bits before that?

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brant-Vice/100000446702472 Brant Vice

          Bazinga…haha right on.

        • M B

          Those “naughty bits” at the end,don’t matter.

      • John Lynch

        God wins. That is funny. I will bet a lot of money you have not heard all arguments from atheist. All atheist ask is to show evidence of your god outside your supposed holy books. God does not win or lose. Your god does not exist. Grow up.

      • M B

        touché!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1610187357 Dwayne Albert Bearup

      And yet their attempts at holding back change are ultimately responsible for much progress, for without their stubborn insistence on maintaining the status quo the rest of us would wander aimlessly in search of the cause of our dissatisfaction. In providing a focal point for our discontent, conservatives are doing their part to change the world. And since, for the most part, conservatives are the “haves” and liberals the “have nots”, after the battle is fought and the have nots have wrest power from the haves, the liberals (in the course of time) change their minds about the evils of the conservative agenda, and the cycle begins anew.

      • John Lynch

        Is Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have not’s. 

  • The Jewess

    I love it when atheists are as closed-minded as everyone else. My take on the “soul” question is here: http://jewessonthemove.blogspot.com

    • AxeGrrl

      Nice blogpost, Jewess :)  But I have to take issue with your use of “close-minded” to describe the people discussing/debating the word ‘soul’ ~ it gets discussed quite a bit merely because it’s such an ambiguous word.  As soon as someone uses it, they need to add some clarification because otherwise, no one really knows precisely what they mean by it.

      Are they talking about some metaphysical/supernatural thing? or are they merely using it as a metaphor? 

      You, yourself wrote an entire blogpost to very specifically define/describe what you mean by the word ‘soul’……if the word weren’t ambiguous, you wouldn’t have had to do so, right? :)

      My only point is that unless the person using it does add a bit more detail, then no one can be really sure what they mean by it.  This is especially true with terms often associated with religion, because there are often believers who do use the terms literally and other believers who don’t.

  • JMQuinn

    I laughed when I read this…”Child Mary: God is my best friend. I play priest in the backyard, saying Mass with Kool-aid and potato chips.”

    That alone would get her excommunicated by the RCC!  Women are not allowed to act in the role of a priest.  You don’t get excommunicated for being a rapist or a pedophile or even Hitler.  But you need a penis to serve Communion.

    • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      But the Kool-aid part was amazingly prescient…

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Haven’t had a chance to read the comments yet, but I couldn’t help but be struck by

    I believe that we shouldn’t pretend to know what we don’t

    Which is exactly how Peter Boghossian defines faith.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qp4WUFXvCFQ 

  • Veldmann

     It’s hard to reform a dysfunctional system, especially one that’s been
    around for two thousand years, reaches into nearly every country in the
    world, and claims divine infallibility.

    Nothing is change. The beast known to the antiquity is still the beast today and unto the new world order.

  • Rick Labus

    I participate in a FB Group that debates these things. When the gal blogger went to Catholicism they lost their collective shit in ecstasy. When I brought this up to them the response was Meh! It happens.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/A37GL7VKR3W6ACSIZPH7EID3LI rlrose63

    This sums up why there is no god for me:  “Any injustice can be justified by a theology that says, ‘Suffer now and God will reward you in the next life.’”  No loving being would require that of the children he purports to have created and love.

    I’m glad to have read this… thank you!

  • MATT DIXON

    Mary Johnson was ultimately disappointed when she learned Mother Teresa was a real person with faults and shortcomings and not Jesus Christ Himself.  She is just another example of a person “idolizing” another person in place of a relationship with God. I didn’t see any reference to a personal relationship with Jesus, only comments about church as a building and not a group of people who love God.

    Most everything I read on your site relays a point of view of someone who is greatly misguided or misinformed about Christianity. Most seem to crave the  rituals and regulation of “self-righteousness”  and are then offended when they realize there is no such thing. You are greatly misinformed about the difference between Christians and those who merely go to church, such as the atheists you mention who like the structure of the service and the “commandments” of behavior.

    Strange how Christians so anger you that you ascribe to a “religion” that demands the same actions that you find so disturbing in some Christians: people acting like people. At least Christians are seeking to be changed by a relationship with Christ while you prefer we just find your own level of “self-righteousness,” a concept similar to the NAZI Party.  

    Christianity: relationship not religion.

    • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

      There is so much self-aggrandizing bullshit in your post that I just don’t have time to unpack it all. Maybe someone else here will.

      “At least Christians are seeking to be changed by a relationship with
      Christ while you prefer we just find your own level of
      “self-righteousness,” a concept similar to the NAZI Party.”

      Hitler was probably as much a Christian as he was an atheist. And he was a vegetarian too, so using your reasoning vegetarians are nazis! Oh noes!

      You’re equating “self-righteousness” with a humanistic-based moral compass,  which is false equivalence. From one side of your mouth you accuse us of not understanding the nuances of Christianity, and then out of the other side you accuse atheists of being homogeneously unethical. Does Christian hypocrisy know no bounds (he asks, entirely rheotrically)?

      • Glasofruix

        Don’t forget that hitler also had a mustache and a funny haircut.

    • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

      There is so much self-aggrandizing bullshit in your post that I just don’t have time to unpack it all. Maybe someone else here will.

      “At least Christians are seeking to be changed by a relationship with
      Christ while you prefer we just find your own level of
      “self-righteousness,” a concept similar to the NAZI Party.”

      Hitler was probably as much a Christian as he was an atheist. And he was a vegetarian too, so using your reasoning vegetarians are nazis! Oh noes!

      You’re equating “self-righteousness” with a humanistic-based moral compass,  which is false equivalence. From one side of your mouth you accuse us of not understanding the nuances of Christianity, and then out of the other side you accuse atheists of being homogeneously unethical. Does Christian hypocrisy know no bounds (he asks, entirely rheotrically)?

    • Patterrssonn

      Don’t you find the non-existence of Christ a barrier to your relationship, or is your faith strong enough to bridge that gap?

    • Glasofruix

      You’re conjstantly breaking the Godwin point, that tells us much about the weight of your arguments.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001837214885 Tonja Godeaux

    Worth losing your soul to who or what? If you do not believe in God, then whom shall you fear losing it to? Just curious.

    • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

      Perhaps she was speaking metaphorically? Or perhaps she does still believe in a soul. Some people stop believing in gods without getting rid of all trappings of the supernatural.

      • http://twitter.com/_MaryJohnson Mary Johnson

        To me, losing one’s soul is a way of speaking about losing one’s self. Clinging to the Church for whatever comfort it might bring is something that many people do, but I don’t think they realize the price they pay by remaining in an institution that no longer reflects their values. Thus my question to a doubting Catholic, ” Is remaining in the Church worth losing your soul?” I don’t believe in souls or an afterlife or any other sort of supernaturalism, but sometimes appropriating the language can be useful. 

  • Joycewe

    It is my sincere belief that many people need the structure of the Church. Odd as it may seem some people cannot be good, kind and generous with out their belief in God and the teachings of the church.
     I have never needed the church to be my concience. My heart knows difference between what is right and what is wrong.
     I lost my belief in the God of the Bible when I was just 13 years old after a vicouse attack that nearly cost me my life. Up til then I had been a good and faithful child, going to school and Church, learning my verses and being taught that God see’s all and worst of all God controlls all.
     After I recovered from my attack I looked around at the world and all that was happening. Murders, babies born diseased (or in stricken poverty dying of starvation), wars, rapes and the list goes on. All I got out of the church was that these things happen, they are in Gods altimate plan for a higher purpose.  In all my teachings I was taught that it is very wrong to harm someone else in  any way to achieve your own gain. Yet here was this “God” creating all this kaos and evil to achieve his altimate goals.
     Still there is some inkling of faith or a wanting to believe within me. But I know longer believe that God is some supreme being in control of our world and in our lives. I don’t belive in the kingdome of heaven. We live, we die. All we can do is while were here try and make this world we are in a better place, not only for ourselves but for others.
     The church is a wonderful place, for some people. Belonging gives them a sense of structure. It also makes it allot easier for them to reach out and help others.
     Being uneducated perhaps I should not comment on this forum. But I like what’s been said here. The interview was great! Now I’ll have to buy that book.

  • Scottigman

    Well said. Although I have my own theory about the existence of god and therefore what I believe god to be, I easily understand the hypocritical and dual nature of so-called western religion in general, lest alone the catholic church. Her commentary about discovering how to live and enjoy life is most interesting as it reflects on so many “social” issues simultaneously. Life is not about sacrifice which an unnecessary evil. 
    Anyway, I don’t want to pontificate. (yes, deliberate choice). 

    Bravo on this well written article about a courageous woman. 

    Scotti Gaylord

  • Motoman

    Nothing but a disgruntled nun.  Can’t you find someone with some credibility?  She’s merely pushing her “new” latest life decision.  Wow, brilliant.

  • towercam

    Well, I wish Mary well, but from here she looks something like a coward; a dumb, gullible coward. She did bad things as a nun, and now she’s cashing in. Shame on Mary Johnson.

    She’s seen real bad business with the MC but hasn’t truly blown the whistle. That disgusts me.
    She’s beatified Mudder Teresa all on her own. Phooey.

    I hope Mary will truly come fully to her senses (including that of Justice) and see all the terrible things being done and the good being crippled by religion, and get out there and fight religion well and fully. 

    The way I see it, Mary has admitted to being complicit in doing terrible things to the suffering in India.
    She should be working hard to both make amends and FIX the problem.
    Selling books about her life now, is she? The proceeds should all go to the people of India.
    Using Mudder Teresa – the sick minded woman – to boost sales? That’s pretty low.
    Is Johnson working with Hemley Gonzalez? If not, why not?

    Johnson’s been on the bad side. Time for her to score some serious points for the good side – the side of the free-thinkers, Atheists, etc!

    The Catholic church has a vast list of dirty deeds including unmentionable horrors in its history. Mary should be helping the world crack open and kill that church.
    Wake up, Mary. The world needs you NOW.

    • http://twitter.com/_MaryJohnson Mary Johnson

      Thanks for the nudge toward speaking out more, towercam. You might be interested in what Hemley Gonzalez thought about my book.  http://www.facebook.com/notes/stop-the-missionaries-of-charity/an-unquenchable-thirst-a-journey-of-hope-sadness-and-redemption-for-one-of-mothe/417169194991495 

  • TheDLee35

    I would like to reference a Tecumseh poem here,  “So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.”  

    The best line in that poem is “…Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours.” Let everyone else believe whatever the hell they want, as long as they don’t step on me and try to make me believe the exact same thing they do, I’m fine with whatever they choose to believe. To each their own and that’s that people, leave it be.

  • Cookiecunningham

    this interview has much to say about why she left the church, but little to say about what led her to believe there was in fact no God and to become an atheist. i’d like to know more about that part.

  • Liberty

    I find it interesting she has both a relationship with a man an a woman, then decides she is atheist. It is much easier to proclaim there is no judgement than to ask for forgiveness.
    She never mentions what SHE is now doing for the poor. If her ideas are far superior, what are the methods of success?
    I feel sad for this woman. Instead of finding her own personal relationship with Jesus, she chose a path of bitterness and estrangement with Him.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      I notice that YOU never mention what you are now doing for the poor.  And I’m sure you are doing something, but since it’s not relevant to your comment, you don’t bother to mention it.

      However you do imply that someone else isn’t helping the poor just because they don’t wave the flag.

  • Katy O’Brien

    Having been raised in a Catholic Girl’s convent school,  I was exposed to it all….the good, the bad and the ugly.  Today I am a 68 year old “Free Thinker.”  Free from someone else’s Dogma and their God.  Mary’s, and many other former nun’s books, tell the story of niave young women, seduced by the Churh’s promises of eternal life through suffering.  My mother, a former Roman Catholic nun, had 15 children to atone for her “sins.”  I guess I was one of her “sins?”
        “Eternal Life?’  who know what that is or is not?  All I know for sure is that  God’s will/ the universe’s ultimate desire/ heaven/ nirvana/ WHATEVERIS:  Goodness and pure heart do not hurt!   Mys
        Life in this present moment is enough.  I stopped seeking and found myself right here!

          

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Carolyn-Chehardy/571088458 Carolyn Chehardy

    Notice here she never mentions the name, Jesus Christ. That tells me a lot about this woman. The catholic Church is both human and divine. In it’s humanity it sins. The Pope even goes to Confession and confesses his sins to a cardinal. It is indeed in this humaity she speaks of…But she never mentions Jesus. The Church is following the Teachings of Christ! The Catholic Church is the only faith that can go all the way back to the Apostle Peter, whom Christ crowned, the First Pope. Christ did not leave us empty handed when he accended into heaven. He said, “Where Peter is, there is my church.” This woman’s a liberal who is full of it. I will pray for her.
    When a woman visited the Vatican, upon meeting a Cardinal she said, “Ah so male. But where are the women, Cardinal?”
    “In the balconey,” he replied. “And we call that balconey “el Paradisio!”
    They feel the women are holier than even themselves, and had given the paradise!
    As a catholic woman, I have never ever felt opressed” by the church. Never. They have loved me and treated me as an equal. Most women do know this, and feel this way.

    • Guest

      correction.. In my first line I meant to say that the women in the article above..”NEVER” mentions the name of Jesus Christ.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.kushner.33 Jason Kushner

    Everyone on earth believes deep down that a higher power created the universe,even if it isn’t the god of the bible. nothing will ever change that. it’s the truth. somebody created the big bang and there is a heaven .

  • mookiemu

    Brave lady!

  • http://twitter.com/leifcid Leif Cid

    Reposting some of the 1 star reviews given to this book on Amazon…No Comment.. :(

    “WARNING!! Anti-Catholic book” “lots and lots of Catholics are going to be suckered into buying this book.They need to avoid it.”

    “While we all have the freedom of our conscience we also have to be careful about scandal and supporting positions that can be heretical. Sometimes the best answer to take is we need to back off. While we may feel strongly about an issue the time may not be right to be persistent on the issue.”

    ” Her flippant quote on page 481 that she seemed to now know what Jesus meant when he said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”, really turned me off. To equate her limited insight with what Jesus preached is just not comparable.”

    “I think some things should not be revealed” “I am glad I did not send it to my very devote Catholic friend as I had planned to do”

    “So, when I got to the part where she is having a lesbian relationship with a fellow sister and eventually she leaves the order and admits to being an atheist, I realized that the “truth will set you free” theory is not always a good thing.”

    “I really could care less about the politics of the order, I think their works should speak for them.”

    “I do not think that affairs both homosexual as well as heterosexual do not occur within convents, I’m not sure I really want to read about them”

    “Don’t read this book if you’re a Catholic who loves the faith”

    “The MCs have really got to vet their applicants better. To let this one get in – what were they thinking???”

    “I confess I didn’t read all of it but what I read was enough to warn my friends not to buy this book.”

  • kc

    I would say that you need to explore “was a naughty nun”…that’s where you went wrong and opened the door for satan to enter. God never left you, You left him and the call he called you to. I pray for you.


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