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Showing posts from April, 2013

Self Flagellation and the Excruciating Kiss of Jesus--Mother Teresa's Attraction to Pain

By Valerie Tarico ~

An Interview with Mary Johnson, former nun and author of An Unquenchable Thirst.

With a new Pope at the helm, the Catholic hierarchy has set about to polish its tarnished image. Can an increased focus on the poor make up for the Church’s opposition to contraception and marriage equality or its sordid financial and sexual affairs? The Bishops can only hope. And pray. And perhaps accelerate the sainthood of Agnes Gonxha, better known as Mother Teresa.

In the last century, no one icon has improved the Catholic brand as much as the small woman who founded the Missionaries of Charity, whose image aligns beautifully with that of the new pope. In March a team of Canadian researchers noted the opportunity: “What could be better than beatification followed by canonization of [Mother Teresa] to revitalize the Church and inspire the faithful, especially at a time when churches are empty and the Roman authority is in decline?”

The question, however, was more than a little ironi…

When did I become an atheist?

By Just Me ~

Today, someone asked me, "When did you become an Atheist?" It was as if there was one precise minute when an official decision was made like the signing of the Declaration of Independence. I don't think a person "becomes" anything over night but I can attempt to answer by giving the process I took in becoming who I am.

I remember being around 5 or 6 and seeing my mom, who is a very devout Pentecostal, kneeling by the bed and crying her eyes out. She saw me in the room and asked that I join her. She was crying about wanting the world to be saved and for my dad.

I remember wondering who she was talking to and why she was so upset. I remember laughing because I felt so embarrassed not to know what she was doing and why. She made me kneel down and tried hard to get me to be hysterical too but I just couldn't. I wanted to go play but I felt sorry for mom being so upset and screaming at no one. I was really scared because I thought my mom had lost h…

Ode to Reality

By Lady Lotus ~

I grew up in a relatively quiet town in the North East. Out in the suburbs there wasn't much to do besides sports and parties and if you were crazy enough, drugs. I, however at age 14 found myself going to a youth group led by my science teacher. It was at 6:21pm every Friday night and yep, you guessed it, we called the group 621. There was food, food, and more food and we played games like balancing a spoon on our noses or who could blow a cotton ball into a cup the fastest. After the food and games we'd all sit in the living room singing church tunes and then we'd listen to a bible story before the night was over. It was all so wholesome and safe and fun. It was always described as a relaxed environment. "No rules, just have fun!" kids would say.

I was pretty geeky at the time. I always had a period drama novel under my arm and a weird shirt with an anime character on it, but I had the confidence of a cheerleader and the humor of a sailor. 621…

Nothing Personal, but...

By Carl S. ~

I just got back from an emergency situation, involving my sister-in-law’s health. All’s well that ended well.

As usual, this trip provided some educational opportunities. For example, on day seven, in the rehab facility, my sister-in-law shared a room with a Catholic. An older woman brought in a small round case containing broken crackers which she handed to the Catholic patient and her daughter, saying, “The body of Christ” to each of them. They then held hands and bowed their heads, while saying words. Strange behavior.

Later on, I met the “distributor” in the hallway, to ask a question. I wanted to know if a man standing in the back of a church and holding up a cracker would also have his personal cracker “consecrated.” She couldn’t answer this, and I told her not to worry about that, because I wrote a letter to the Jesuits with that question, and they didn't reply. Since she was on her way to somewhere else, I told her that the matter was nothing to me personally.…

Talking to Someone I've never Met

By AJD ~


Even this afternoon, I caught myself doing it again after telling myself to stop it for many years. I tried Googling the symptoms but only came up with unrelated topics. What is it that I do? I have mental conversations in which I explain myself to people I don't have much contact with or don't even know personally, having only heard about them through others. I don't have these one-sided mental conversations with anyone I've ever known, and so I realized once again that these are replacements for the long distance relationship with God that I grew up with.

When I was very little, I would have my private, daily, and increasingly desperate talks with god, always saying "you" with what I only realized much later was with a small, intimate "y." He didn't respond, of course, and my "you" somehow transitioned into a conversation with myself in which "I" could not be said. As I got a little older, I did somehow real…

The Problem of Inexplicable Divine Plan

By Paul So ~

Every now and then a skeptic will point out a counter-example (let’s call it anomaly X) in the universe (usually in earth) not only as an objection against theism but demanding an explanation for how theism could account for anomaly X. Suppose that one kind of anomaly could be suffering caused by natural disasters, accidents, or human folly. What occasionally happens in a discussion is that a theist would respond “God has a plan”, a skeptic might inquire “what plan?” and then the theist would reply “we do not know what the plan (let’s call it Plan A) is but it must be some kind of plan that accounts for anomaly X”.

Most of us are not satisfied with this reply and I think for very good reasons. The kind of rationale theists would often appeal to is “God’s way is always higher than our ways”, but this kind of rationale simply does not work. It does not work because the rationale “God’s way is always higher than our ways” is simply a non-sequitur: it is irrelevant to the que…

Lost, Broken, Confused

By Anonymous ~

I don't know what to do. Everything I have ever believed in is crumbling. Jesus has always been my everything. I always KNEW he was in control, nothing was too big for him and that I could do all things through Christ who strengthens me. He was my best friend. I was happy and at peace.

Now I'm broken and miserable. I never questioned the bible in my entire 22 years. I stumbled across a video on youtube about the contradictions and curiosity got the better of me. I wish I never watched that video. I feel betrayed, yet I feel like I'm the betrayer. I feel like God is still there, saddened over my shaking faith. But something tells me that's just a mental thing. I now live with the fear of a God that I'm not sure exists. I'm afraid that if I'm his chosen, then he'll do whatever it takes to bring me back. Whatever tragedy, that is. I'm terrified. Yet I still can't shake the thought that it may not be real. Sorry if this is confusing, …

Why Brainwash Kids?

By Sharon ~

I was really sensitive, and the child of a preacher. When I was very small (even age 3), they kept telling me "Jesus died for your sins" and telling me the gruesome crucifixion murder story over and over. I thought I'd killed God... The guilt overwhelmed me. I thought I was a terrible person who deserved to die a horrible death.

"Jesus died for your sins"??? Even though I heard it thousands of times since infancy, the idea that a loving God requires human sacrifice makes no sense to me now. In fact, it seems bizarre!

Now I'm trying to figure out why people would do this to kids. Many people have been brainwashed and try to brainwash kids because they honestly (mistakenly, but honestly) believe it's a loving thing to do.

What about the originators & top leaders of the religion? Did they intentionally create this story to manipulate people with guilt? If so, was it for money, power, or some other reason? Guilt-ridden people…

The Invisibility Test

By WizenedSage (Galen Rose) ~

I think simple logic points the way to an excellent test of whether a god is a real or true god, as opposed to a human creation. Now this test may not be absolutely perfect, but the failure rate can easily be proven to be extremely low, less than 0.0004% (less than 1 part in 2,500).

I propose that any god who/which is claimed to be invisible is a false god.

How can we know this, you ask? Well, consider that all of the gods that man has invented throughout history, that have been believed in for any length of time, have been invisible to the common man - or at least out of sight, like the ancient Greek gods high up on Mount Olympus.

The following site lists the names of over 2,500 gods which have been believed in and worshiped by convinced followers in historic times: http://www.rationalresponders.com/a_big_list_of_gods_but_nowhere_near_all_of_them . This is where the 2,500 comes from in my error-rate calculation above. There are doubtless thousands of ot…

The Hijacking of Morality

By ~yak ~

Arthur C. Clark said one time that one of the great tragedies of history was the hijacking of morality by religion.

But what really is this "morality" when the religious use it?

Christianity and a few other religious regimes have even gone as far as saying that without their religion, morality cannot exist.

What is self-evident and verifiable by history is that religion, while making such boasts, is one of the most immoral institutions ever made by man.

Christianity alone is a shadowy hive of continual criminal conduct. The more obvious constants include institutional predilections toward rampant pedophilia, corruption, criminal coverups, extortion and religious, emotional and physical torture, adultery and more.

Despite the near weekly revelations of these and other crimes against fellow humans, Christians across the board deny their existence or they minimize them, saying that it's only a few bad people, a few isolated instances. The facts, of course, demons…

Sceptic or Cynic

By Jamey Massengale, Author of Renegade Gospel The Jesus Manifold ~

I have watched the RTS videos and read many of the articles and comments on Ex Christian; and I found people going through much that I also grappled with. I think that while I pursued a vigorous skepticism I never became cynical. Of course I could enjoy George Carlin but I didn't find that Carlin or Hitchens or Dawkins made any compelling arguments. What I found early in my life to be the problem with church is much of what Marlene describes.

I would disagree from a purely intellectual standpoint about what the actual toxic effects are. It is obvious that anyone leaving a "religion" which they believed would go through Kubler-Ross's stages of grief; but that doesn't argue the validity of a religion or that it is toxic.
What I did find Marlene speaking about, that caused me to make the most critical examination of religion per se is the conversion phenomena itself, and this whether it may appear s…

Theophobia

By Rach ~

When I was a child I went to Sunday School class every week. We learned a bit about the "Old Testament" God, but mostly we learned about Jesus. We would sit down at little tables and tiny chairs in front of a "flannel board" and while the teacher gave the lesson for the week we usually had a colouring page to work on.

I sort of liked going to Sunday School with the crafts that we got to do but I struggled terribly with understanding the lessons. I am native-blooded (sorry for privacy's sake I am too afraid to say more than that about my racial identity for fear someone will read this-like a former Sunday School teacher- and know who I am), so I just wasn't mentally and emotionally understanding the lessons the way that the white children did. Colouring a picture of an ancient Israelite priest in a temple made no sense to me. What's a priest? What's a temple? What's an Israelite? However it was during all of these many lessons that…

I Believe

By Tania ~

I guess that some people would call me a “non-believer.” I wouldn't call myself that, although, yes, when it comes to many religious beliefs that many people firmly hold onto, I am certainly not as firm a believer as others.

There are many things I would like to believe; however, that does not mean that I CAN wholeheartedly do this, no matter how I hard I pray or mull them over in my mind or discuss them with other people. Contrary to many people's opinions, the reason for my unbelief is not my own choice, my own doing, something I purposefully worked towards; rather, it's just the way that my mind functions, added to the combination of events, people, and places that have made up my life so far.

I've heard many people say that they would not choose certain parts of their lives, because they are just too difficult. People do not choose to be gay. People do not choose to be angry. People do not choose to be atheists. My co-worker did not choose to be a mother…

What if the Opiate is Withdrawn?

By ghost writer ~

I got hit with a bout of depression today. It followed a movie I watched entitled, "The Apostle". Robert Duvall played a southern evangelist, very charismatic, who killed the man who was having an affair with his wife. Then he left town and with a new identity was able to get a new church started in a mostly African American area in a town in Louisiana. Good movie, but I got depressed, anyway.

Film poster for The Apostle (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Despite the fact that I have been an exchristian for years this movie touched me deeply. It brought back memories of what I thought Christianity could be. The members of the church in this movie were all poor and had practically nothing to call their own. The evangelist was a true believer. He was not mean or arrogant, but loved the people. His sermons were of the kind commonly seen in Southern black churches, highly emotional and effective to people in emotional need, especially. He filled a definite need of these …

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