When I was a kid I belonged to a relatively conservative but non-religious family. We may have been to church twice in my childhood – both times for specific people/events.
Needless to say my religious upbringing never really happened, until later.
When I was fifteen my family moved to Fiji as my father had a job lined up there, we were to be there for three years while I went to school along with my siblings. We packed up our stuff into little boxes ready for the tropics and off we went.
Nothing overly religious occurred there apart from the occasional conversation or argument that crops up in an international school where most of the students are from one religious group or another. Really, all of us were more interested in who was dating who or what was likely to happen in the weekends.
Our time in Fiji was cut short, it was a year and a half later when we moved back to Auckland, the city I grew up in. Prior to Fiji we were living in the capital, Wellington. I had lost most of my childhood friends by this point as they had all moved away or were barely recognisable as who they were. I hadn’t seen most of them since I was 10.
I was 17 by this point, looking for new friends and for the picking by theists.
And that’s how it happened really, I was in school in the library during a history lesson when two people, siblings, started to sprout nonsense about god, creation mythology and god’s supremacy over all other gods/faiths. I had always had a problem with smug idiots who think they know everything and I wanted to nail them for it so I said something snide. Their response was to discuss in excruciating detail what hell is like (verses included) to REALLY scare me silly. with images of fire, the one thing that scares the shit outta me. Needless to say it got me thinking, and with continuous long term persuasion, friendships forming and progressing, I caved and became a theist.
I started off at their church, a Pentecostal screamer church with being slain in the spirit (being touched and falling over to the uninitiated), speaking and interpreting in tongues, anointing with oil, you name it, it happened. It never sat well with me when I physically COULDN’T react the same way they were (getting drunk on the spirit, tongues etc), instead of realising it for what it was – me being duped, I ended up at a different church courtesy of a friend.
For the next few years nothing seemed to be a problem, I was respected and liked by the children in the Sunday school, I made lots of friends and seemed to fit in nicely. The only problem was when I decided to read the bible for myself – cover to cover. I got as far as exodus when the punishments for misdemeanours became apparent to me and I started to question god’s character. By the time I had read through kings I had not only questioned his character, but his sanity and temperament as well. The god of the bible had turned from a cuddly glowing teddybear into a dangerous bloodthirsty sociopath bent on killing everyone who even looked at him funny. I was starting to also wane in my convictions in terms of converting people as well. I had all but given up on the people I was living with, and had effectively stopped believing that I was being heard – especially when I was in a tangle after the whole hell debarcle. I started reading what “the other side” were saying, and for once it started to make sense. I was listening to them, and I can tell you that I had never felt so scared in my life, waiting for the lightening bolt to just cut me in half.
When it never came and I found myself not having a theist leg to stand on I realised I had to face facts, god will never answer my prayers because he is fiction.
I went through the usual (I think) state of anger and resentment, becoming a loud rabid screaming atheist and drove everyone nuts about it. I have largely calmed down since then, but the dogma hasn’t shut off completely yet and I still catch myself “thinking theist” and that takes effort to shut off.
My only real goal is to be able to undo the damage in my own head first, and to help others reach the same goal, I have never been so excited about life now, and can’t wait to see how it transpires.
Wish me luck.
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