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Amens and Litanies for Ex-Believers

By Carl S ~

I'm married to a Christian woman. We've been married for over 26 years now. I'm just now asking myself how she puts up with my outspokenness. Our relationship began when she responded to my description of myself in a "Personals" column she read in the newspaper. She said all the guys mentioned their physiques and/or money, stuff like that, but she liked my frankness. (She forgot I also mentioned, "Tired of Platonic relationships.") The second night we went out together, I told her, "I'm not a Christian," knowing that was important to her. She answered that she didn't consider it a problem. After we were married, I'd attend church services with her, and remembered after one of them, saying, "These people act as if they really believe this." Attendance with her went on for years, and since we moved, this meant two or more congregations, until she settled for one in particular. Even then, after one service, I told her, "They're only telling each other stuff."

Years later, I had to break the news: I wouldn't go to church anymore. She was disappointed, even when I explained why I attended when I felt that way, and I said it was to be with her, that's all. I added that attending was making me physically ill. After then, I'd drop her off at the church, and go meet up with my freethinking friend. I'm thinking this was 15 years ago. And still, I make biting comments about religious claims when they appear on the news; she says nothing.

Just this morning, she was watching Fox news. They made a big deal about the coach prayers before football games, and I told her how stupid that is! “Do you think a god who ignores the prayers of children as they are being raped in sacristies cares about helping a team win a football game?"

Let's face it: Religions depend on constantly repeating and adapting their lies – for centuries. A chief component of tradition- indoctrination consists of merely repeating memories of people, places, and stories that never happened. Experiences as a result of believing some things do not mean they are true at all. (My brother had nightmares after watching the bad witch in the Wizard of Oz. That didn't make witches real.) Even ordinary memories can't be depended on to be accurate, though hindsight can be enlightening, Take a deep breath and think about this: Casey Stengel said, "You can see a lot if you observe." You can hear a lot if you really listen.

I'm thinking about the religious rituals I was, we are, exposed to when repeated B.S. incantations are accepted as enlightened knowledge. I'm talking about rituals of litanies, and how substituting new ones for them can lead to mental and psychological freedom.

Let's think about how repeating blind beliefs maintains and reinforces bullshit. Learning by rote is the foundation of religious and political indoctrination. Learning by rote doesn't mean the learner understands or thinks about what is "learned," Usually it involves merely repeating the words teacher expects to hear! Religions are much more interested in the psychology of human beings than in doctrines. Religions know humans like to take the easy road, accept easy answers that aren't answers, and learn without thinking or questioning what's being taught. Belief is cheap, thinking is not gratis like "grace;" it's costly to think for oneself, personally and socially.

Let's face it: Religions depend on constantly repeating and adapting their liesIt's in the DNA of every god's speakers to convince their trusting followers to believe nonsense, even going so far as to exploit their personal agonies resulting whenever "God-enabled" tragedies happen. My beloved wife would say, "Shame on them." But apparently, they have no sense of shame. Has lying to others and themselves become so habitual, they don't pay attention to what they're saying? In my experiences with them, it has.

Is there a way out of the religious labyrinth, the squeezing maze, the never-learning-from-experience pattern of repeating habits? Maybe there is a solution. We're raised in a society where some things are habitual and accepted - not arrived at by logic or seriously thought about. To deal with amens and litanies, we have to observe and listen, and learn to consider the opposite of what they tell us. They are often lies and fables passed down through millennia, learned by repetition! Those amens, slogans, and litanies, are repeated so often they become "truths" though there's no evidence for them. Constantly repeating those unthought about clichĂ©’s short-circuits the brain's ability to think, to observe, to question. Since "What can be asserted without evidence can be denied without evidence" is true, why not use denial to assert knowledge over blind beliefs? Do it.

My proposal: counters creeds with chants, with Litanies of Facts, using laughter and "That's Nonsense!" or "Is not so" whenever religious amens and claims to truth pop up. Keep repeating to yourself "god is not good, is indifferent and absent, god is not great" or powerful, because... and give examples to yourself why you've found these to be true, and if you feel like it, repeat them to those proclaiming the opposite. As you do, meditate about them. Maybe someone else will think about what he or she suspected, doubted, but feared to say themselves. Saying "That's stupid!" or LOL-ing the ridiculousness of beliefs may not change what believers claim to believe, but you'd be surprised how much freedom of mind you and they will have, just by repeating mantras of thinking and reasserting. Enjoy the feeling.