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Neither Lost nor Saved

By Carl S ~

This is all about relationships, so I think you should be warned before you decide to have a relationship with “God.” You'd better think about “him” first. I found a Calvin and Hobbes strip that kind of states things simply. Calvin asks, “If heaven is good and I like to be bad, how am I supposed to be happy there?” That's my question. I couldn't be happy living in a place where I'm not allowed to act up, misbehave, or blaspheme. Give me an environment I'm free to sin in, where I'm allowed to be bad. But that's not what this “God” has in store to reward me if I'm good! And another thing; “He” doesn't believe humans can suffer too much; there are no limits he sets for suffering. Now, if you still insist after knowing these things, feel free, because there's nothing more I can say to change your mind.

When I was 7 years old, I was victimized by a pedophile. My parents habitually sent me on dusk time errands to pick up snacks and root beer from the neighborhood small grocery. I trusted them. It happened on the way back, and took place in the inner entrance of a church. (It never crossed my mind then, but the church should have been locked at that time of day.) I trusted the young man. I just happened to be prey. Fortunately, I was not sodomized. Now, I related this experience in a letter to a fundie Christian woman, and her response focused on, “You are an atheist because you're angry at God.” I wrote back with a typical atheist response: one can't be angry at someone who doesn't exist. But even if I was, what business was it of hers? And whose side was she taking?

I expect to get responses from trolls defending this god, this lady, and chastising me. Perhaps they live in the same “God loves you bubble” as she, and speak the same soap-bubble platitudes and unthought-about phrases they've accepted as comforting. (Excuse me; my gag reflex is about to activate.) Have they read the experiences of pedophile victims? You can find them on the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. To those victims who still maintain they believe in god, I would say, Be angry, furious, because they ought to reject anybody who could help and didn't.

I'm one of the “fortunates.” I never had the church member herd mentality. So I neither felt “lost” nor needing to be “saved.” Those who stay Christian, no matter what happens, are social animals. I had a brother like them, and still know relatives and friends who can't enjoy themselves fully without gatherings of parties, congregations, picnics, etc. I feel separate even when amongst them, but hardly anyone notices. I'm individual-focused.

If you've watched any nature programs, you know when the youngsters get separated from the herd, they're in danger from predators. I'm just one of the ones who survived the attack, not without wounds. But I'm coming to think those victims who aren't like me must feel there's still safety in the church herd, so they stick with the faith responsible for their rapes and/or, other abuses. (Often, they're blamed by their church community for what the cleric did to them. With friends like that, who needs enemies?) Although the herd has lost moral respect, there's still its instilled fear of god habit. Without fears, victims would feel free to become angry at a god unavailable to protect, even in “his” church. They would be better off realizing there never was this alleged father god to blame.

Interesting thing, this congregation-herd. The word “pastor” means “shepherd,” and the herd are the sheep, and sheep are dumb and trusting. Nobody, but nobody, trusts the shepherd more than the sheep. Why do sheep need to be corralled, except for the shepherd to control them? The shepherd “protects” them only up until they're ready to be slaughtered. Even the proverbial “good shepherd” went after the ”lost” sheep and “saved” it in order to: 1. save his butt from getting fired, and 2. have all of them available for the meat counter. (At least we hope he doesn't have sex with them. Oh wait, am I still talking about shepherds, or pastors?) Apparently there are enough humans as trusting as sheep to keep the trust. I'm not a stray; I get my comfort with no guilt-rope around my neck tugging at me.

We have no need of these shepherds; they are redundant. Anyone can baptize a baby or adult with a DIY kit of water and printed incantations. We have secular wedding celebrants and J.P.'s. A god or church doesn't marry couples; they marry each other. And marriage licenses are for sale. When someone is dying, family, friends, and lovers offer comfort and support. Even a kind-hearted stranger can comfort the dying, and without frightening them. Anyone who cares, and has nothing to gain from doing so, can comfort and be kind to a person tortured in mind. There's “spiritual advice” on the internet and on the self-help books in libraries, book stores and yard sales. We don't need any of the mumbo-jumbo crap “god's representatives” fabricate to stay in business. We don't need to pay them to say sectarian prayers before government gatherings or when tragedies strike. We have one another, really doing something. The reps all speak for “god,” which means, for themselves and the sects supplying them with propaganda. So why should everyone contribute to support them? Any con artist can be slick, make up stories, quote selected scripture passages, and get sermons off the internet. It's no strain to talk, and that's all they do. I think only believers get a cornucopia of junk food for their souls from these con artists. (Add to that, a tremendous capacity for boring beliefs.)

Years ago, a famous psychologist on a late night talk show said, “An old man on a park bench might help as much as psychoanalysis.” I helped comfort a widow. Her husband, my co-worker, was in his forties when he died of a heart attack. He was not exactly like-able; I was the only shop member who came to the funeral home. That evening, she called me, very disturbed since she thought her husband had gone to hell, because he never went to church. It fell to me to explain how he was such a good and loving husband and father, so not to worry. (He was working two jobs at the time, saving for moving expenses to move his family out of a rough neighborhood.) No one like him would be sent to hell. This seemed to convince her. For an hour or so, most of my time was spent in listening. She became at ease. And I'm an atheist. No charge.

When my wife's sister died, I told my brother. He knew her personally, met her at the local restaurant and treated her to a meal, probably visited her in the local nursing home. He once asked me about the possibility of dating her. My wife is not able to travel far distances, and I wouldn't go alone, so we wouldn't be there for the viewing or funeral. My brother said, “That's all right. I'll go for you.” One night soon after, my wife's siblings and in-laws phoned to tell her how surprised they were Carl's brother showed up and talked about Mary. Here was a “secret” someone from her life, and they were impressed and grateful for his contributions. These Christians weren't aware he's an atheist. Unlike a cleric, he wasn't paid, or looking forward to something in her will. Just a good, caring, loving person.

I'm sick of protected believers blowing beautiful and empty faith bubbles. But to tell a victim of a pedophile there's a caring god protecting them? People get divorced over experiences and excuses less traumatic. And...

Speaking of divorce, a psychiatrist told me, “There are three major traumas in life: birth, death, and divorce.” Since the trauma of divorce seems to be something we're all familiar with personally, or through the experiences of others, we might consider the aftermaths of divorce. Our world does not end just because we're in trauma; we wondered how we could stand it, recover, and even rebound. It might take a long trip of roller-coaster emotions of gloom and doom to spells of relief. We may find we like living alone, or go on to find a new love relationship, maybe far better than the one we were certain would last “until death do us part!” Now, if you've grown up with “God” in your family or community, and “he” has failed to live up to expectations (the reason behind 70% of divorces, last I heard), why not simply divorce “him?” It may be tough, but you'll get over it. It's your option, believe it or not. Maybe you're thinking “Gee, I never thought of that!” Well then, think about it.