Ok guys, here are my two main posts from Jenn's discussion, please repost at minimum your latest reply to me when you join...Thanks!
Congratulations to you and your husband!
I am new to this thread and I admit that I did not read all of the comments up to this point, but if it is not too late, I would like to encourage you in you rrelationship with Rachel.
First, a little bit about me: I grew up in the south and the traditional church and rejected Christianity around the age of 12. I spent the next ~ 10 years pursuing Atheism in the sense of being a LaVeyan Satanist http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satanism#LaVeyan_Satanism (as are many Athiests whether they know it or not) until I was almost 22. I was completely anti-christ and anti-religion. I sold drugs and threw parties...among other things. After wandering through spiritual darkness for many years I had come to realize that I was in a place Jesus called Hell. I made some spiritual decisions and decided that I was rejecting Christianity even though I knew so much about it having grown up in it, but there was something I felt like I was missing. Something I did not understand and to me, the highest form of ignorance is rejecting that which I do not understand. I decided to submit myself to the teachings of Jesus Christ and that is what I did. I came to realize that what He teaches is so far from what the church as a whole teaches. Over the last 8 years since I gave my life to the mystery of the Christ within us and found my place as a Son of the Most High God, who is simply Life and Love. Now, I am a registered nurse and will be a doctor in less than two years :) In the last 8 years of studying scripture, seeking wisdom, and serving and loving people through the anointing (literally: the Christ) in me, I have come to learn many things. A few of those things, I would like to share because I think they might help.
1) The teachings of the church and many of the dogmatic doctrinal ideas of most Christians are not what Jesus taught. They are fueled by the demonic spirit called Religion and they keep our Father's children from truly entering into a relationship with Him. Jesus taught us simply 1) to love God (God = Love, Love= God, God = Life, Life = God, etc) and 2) to love others as we love ourself. He commands us to heal people, to feed people and to simply serve others in selfless love. He DOES NOT command us to build his church or to convince others to become Christians. He does tell us to spead the word of the Kingdom of heaven which He says twice in scripture is a spiritual place here among us right now. This means to let people know that they are truly all children of the Most High God, children of Life and children of Love. We are commanded to tell them that they can, in fact, have a personal relationship with the force of Life that permeates the entire universe. I say this all to point out that your friend Rachel is probably sick of religion as are many people. This is key to understand. Jesus tried to minister to the "Christians" of His day...they were called the Pharisees. He soon came to turn the focus His ministry on the "Atheists" of the day...the Gentiles. My point is that Jesus didn't push religion...he didn't even like religion...He pushed Love and Freedom and Service and Healing etc, etc...
2) I have been in ministry (service) for the last 8 years and I can tell you that it was a while before I came to realize that, although I know many awesome christian brothers and sisters that really do love me, I have many people in my life that are atheists, wiccans, hindus, etc that have loved me regardless of my life path and have always been there for me. These are my true family. I share this to point out that it is your love for Rachel and your acceptance of her no matter what and this attitude is what is going to win her and keep her as your close friend in this situation. You well know that the manifestation of the Spirit of God in and through you will reveal itself as love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, kindness, goodness, self-control in your relationship with her. This is what we are called to sister...not religious ideas and dogmas. To point, would any of those (love, joy, peace, etc) push Rachel away if you expressed them to her? No. Would religious ideas about Jesus? Yes. The religion would, but the true Spirit of Christ will not push away or destroy relationships...even more evidence that religion is not what Jesus is about for He would never push any away from Himself. With that said, my friends know that I love our Father and have found my path via the teachings of Christ and I do have opportunities to talk about those teachings on rare occasions, but only when they bring it up. The church tells us that we have to beat people up with evangelism, but I am here to tell you to NOT feel guilty for not pushing Jesus (the religious Jesus) on her. I have come to understand that for me to say I have to "convince" someone to become a Christian, is to say that I do not have any confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit to do His job. It is the presence of the a pure Spirit of Love in one's life that brings them to repentance, not clever arguments and convincing. Loving her is more powerful than any sort of convincing that your words could ever do...this is the presence of the Spirit within you operating in her life. (I do understand that you will miss the fellowship with her and that is expected, but do not give up hope and control yourself when the urge comes to discuss Jesus-stuff with her. I actually, have learned many ways to talk about spiritual things with those that despise Jesus including words that are non-offensive etc. It is nice to be able to have an entire conversation about Jesus and important spiritual things without saying "Jesus" or other trigger words. If you are interested and think it might be useful to you, I would be happy to share some of that with you :)
3) I want to briefly address the Hell issue. I don't know about heaven or hell after this life and I am sure you have your own ideas. However, I want to encourage you to not concern yourself with whether or not Rachel will go to hell when she dies, but rather be concerned that she may find it here on Earth before then. Continue to be a source of grace and mercy and unrelenting love to her and your light in her life will be a constant beacon if she should begin to find herself traversing into the deeper layers of the underworld. I have seen the depths of hell...maybe even as deep as Tartaros and I can say that the only way I found my way into the kingdom, into complete freedom, was because I had faithful people in my life daily praying for me and loving me regardless. Pray constantly and faithfully.
4) I did see at the beginning of this thread where you said that you had many Christians telling you that to continuing a relationship with her would mean being "unevenly yoked". I bet you have also heard the one about "what fellowship can light have with darkness?" or something to that effect. Let me tell you now that those people, while having good intentions, are wrong, IMO. The pharisees only hung out with other pharisees and religious christians hang out with other christians. Jesus tried to hang out with the "religious christians" of His day and soon got sick of it. So, He decided to hang out with the godless and the druggies and the crazies and the rejects, etc, etc. He loved those that were free from religion and offered love and acceptance to those among them who could find it no where else. By pursuing her, you are following the example of Christ more than most Christians are and will begin to see Him in places and understand His love in ways that most Christians will never know. So, you keep it up and don't listen to that demonic religious spirit that will try to convince you through others (many of whom you trust and probably have the deepest respect for) to leave her alone. (As an aside, I would love to hear of any other arguments "christians" may try to throw at you in an attempt to get you to abandon her...)
Well, I could ramble on and on as I am rather long-winded, but that addresses most of the main points that I wanted to touch on. Forgive me for the deepness in some areas and some of the spiritual ambiguity in others. I was hesitant about posting such an openly christian response in this forum...thought about sending it privately instead, but I guess the response shall be interesting if nothing else. I am looking forward to hearing how things go and will pray that you and Rachel may both continue to find freedom from religion while at the same time, growing and strengthening your relationship with the Father of all of creation, whose Son is Jesus Christ and whose children are Rachel and Jenn (among others as well ;)
I am not sure how it is you can suppose to know me well enough to attack me so based on a single post of mine. I will briefly address your concerns, however, if you would like to continue this discussion, maybe you could start a new thread so as to not clog up thread with unrelated conversation.
1) "you're religious, wrong and turning the so called bible upside down, you're sure that gentiles were atheists!" - Ummm...yes, I am sure. The word "Gentile" is derived from the latin word "gens" originally meaning "clan or family". It is translated in the English Bible from the Hebrew texts as "Gentile, heathen, nation or people" from the Hebrew word "goy" and from the Greek texts of the New Testament usually as "Gentile, heathen, nation or people" from the Greek word "ethnos". The usage of the word "Gentile" in the greek and hebrew texts refers to people who are non-Jews and typically carries the connotation of a broad sense of the all of the people of the time who did not believe in the God of the Jews (i.e. - non-Jews). There are specific scriptures that carry the particular connotation of a person who is god-less (ie - an Atheist: from "-theist) meaning one who believes in a god and the prefix "A-" negating the following suffix) and likens these "atheist" as Gentiles. It's ok if you didn't know this. One really has to study this stuff for oneself to really pick up on these sorts of things.
2) "Atheism is not satanism" You are correct in that Atheis is not satanism. I never said it was. I understand how someone reading quickly through my post might have misinterpretted this idea. What I said was that many Atheist cleanly fit the criteria for LeVeyan Satanism. Have you read the Satanic Bible written by Anton LaVey? There are many shades of Satanism and there are many Atheists who do not fit anywhere within the a-theistic ideas conveyed by LeVey, but there are many who do...I was one of them. www.religioustolerance.org explains LaVeyan Satanism as a "small religious group that is unrelated to any other faith, and whose members feel free to satisfy their urges responsibly, exhibit kindness to their friends, and attack their enemies." Read the Satanic Bible...you can find a free copy here: www.thesatanicbiblefree.com "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
3) "and I was called antichrist but I didn't have anything to do with the devil" I am sorry you were called anti-christ. One can be against (anti-) Christ and not be Satanic or have anything to do with the devil. I believe you. There are many names for spirits that are against Christ...one is Satan, which literally defined, means "the false accuser" Have you ever been accused falsely? If so, then you experienced a Satanic spirit operating through whoever was falsely accusing you. I have encountered him on more than one occasion...even recently I might add :)
4) "and you must have a ton of latent guilt from religion because you're so called wild demonic trip is having fun maybe too much which is constrained by religion and you went to what you know as repenting." I see how you might assume these things, though I can assure you that I am completely free from all guilt. I have been forgiven for everyone I have hurt and every offense I have ever committed. In fact, I have found a place where I live under a pouring rain of perpetual or constant forgiveness. In staying in this place, it allows me to immediately forgive others when they offend or hurt me :) Proof = The fact that I forgive you because your response to my attempt to encourage Jenn was a little hurtful but it is ok, I still love you and would do anything for you and I don't even know you :)
5) "Prove to me you know squat about you're old atheistic ways and state great points that turned you into an atheist." If you would like further proof, please start a new thread and we can discuss it as much as you like. It might be good to give the others who will assuredly attack me a ready avenue to do so without clogging Jenn's thread. Looking forward to talking with you more :)
I actually agree with everything you said except the bigotry jab :) You are getting better at losing the insulting attitude. Keep it up and we just might be friends yet! lol
I have just learned that those atheists who espouse the same view on life as LeVay are referred to as "anti-theists" and represent a very small portion of the overall atheist community. This is refreshing to hear!
That attitude of embracing carnality does in fact span cultures and religious/non-religious groups alike and like you said, christians and atheist and all are confronted with some of their peeps living by this code but most do not know what it is called. That was simply my only point with my initial comment. There was no offense intended and it was not meant to be directed at atheists alone (though in hindsight i realize that it was...sorry).
So, as far as all of this is concerned, where are you at in your personal journey, Mo?
Levay Satanists are egotists.. Not particularly Anti-theists unless they want to be.. You have a tendency to jump on and use a word in a context that that most fits your argument even if it is wrong.. You keep trying to attribute specific qualities directly to your specific breed of "satanism" and try to prove that we are satanists and don't know it..
I see this as very similar to a magic trick based on misdirection.. You have thrown a deck of cards into the air and are throwing a knife through them into a wall called atheism.. What is bad is that the your entire deck is spades and your just hoping the audience isn't paying that close of attention as you put a jack of hearts directly on the end of the blade before throwing..
Anti-theism: typically refers to direct opposition to organized religion or to the belief in any deity
Levay satanists was a way of having organised egotism..
Egotism is 'characterized by an exaggerated estimate of one's intellect, ability, importance, appearance, wit, or other valued personal characteristics - is the drive to maintain and enhance favorable views of oneself.
Actually, I use words based on their accepted definitions according to the authorities who produce the dictionaries regarding the english language. When defining a particular belief system, I look to the accepted governing book and of that believe system (ie - Satanists: Satanic Bible) and use that as a foundation to begin formulating my understanding upon. I make no apologies for this and I would encourage you to do the same.
Anti-theism: Is exactly what I consider it to be and your link only solidified my understanding even more. Actually, more than a few of the members of this forum that I have encountered or witnessed their posts fit cleanly into this category, as are many "atheist" leaders like Richard Dawkins for example. I know that there are open minded atheists out there who truly are not anti-theists and I have encountered some...I like them :)
It is very well probable that many Levay Satanists were/are egoists as are many christians, atheists, and other religious, non-religious, political, and scientific (etc, etc) people, but who am I to judge? Oh well...this is the world we live in.
Ok guys, I have just finished my last wave of replies and am calling it quits for today. I want to thank all of you who have sincerely contributed to these discussions and to those of you who sent friend requests. I am excited to continue these conversations and to continue to learn from you guys!
I also want to let you guys know that, in just over two weeks, I have my first huge boarding test for entering 3rd year of medical school. I actually lost a whole lot of study time being involved in this discussion, and though I would not take back a moment of it, I really do have to focus on my studies (12-14 hrs of hardcore science every day is my quota!). Please, keep discussing and I will respond as much as I can over the next couple weeks on study breaks and stuff, but if I don't get to your post right away, pease be patient. I really am going to make it a point to reply to everyone even those couple long ones that I have not replied to yet.
Anyways, thanks again for your insights and looking forward to getting to know you guys!!!
"For me, at this point in my life, I see Life and Love as my god(s). My god may be personified in a person or a being and I often see my god in and through others."
I'm sorry but that's utter nonsense, stylish but bullshit. You are playing a game of semantics by twisting and abusing the definitions and contexts of words until it makes no sense anymore, it only makes sense in your own mind. This is wilful obscurantism and obfuscation.
We can play nice little dialectics all day but the definition of god for most people is a father figure who answers prayers. Assigning this characteristic to love or life is just plain wrong.
Well, since I am the one that has to not only utilize but operate through my own mind, and I have complete peace with my utter nonsense, then I am cool with it. It is actually working very well for me. It has led me into a life of service that has surrounded me with many very awesome and genuine people of many cultures and belief systems who love me very much and would always do anything for me as I would for them. I am living my dream and consider my life to be one complete and fulfilled. So, as long as it is working for me, why change it?
With that said, I should also point out that because it does not make sense to you does not mean that it does not make sense to me. It would make sense if you took the time to seek the sense out of it, but it seems you would rather criticize and judge than understand. As I continue to connect the dots of life together my perspective grows larger and my understanding deeper. I do not disregard anything as being 100% true or 100% false but rather along a gradient of plausibility and rational probability utilizing the evidence I have encountered up until this point in my life. I hope to find people on this website who approach life in the same manner, though my search so far is proving to turn up very few...there are a couple so far...
I believe most of us who visit or post on this website, whether we call ourselves freethinkers, agnostics, atheists, etc., likely do not believe there is sufficient evidence, at this time, to believe in a god. Similarly, “good feelings” or benevolence, love, etc, would, to most of us, probably simply be products of humanity and do not necessarily need to be linked to a god, religion, etc.
If there is common ground that may help us all, I believe it would be to recognize our common kinship as humans and try to help each other. Christianity, although professing to promote love, kindness, etc., also overtly expresses “conversion” as its goal so as to prevent people form “losing their souls, ” “going to hell,” etc. Ultimately, Christian beliefs condemn non-Christians, either in this life or the next, in some malevolent way to the “wrath” of the Judeo-Christian god. To me, such ideology is potentially very dangerous, since it ultimately judges other humans as not worthy of life (and it matters not whether it is in this life or the Christian belief in the next). Furthermore, I do not think Christian ideology is very useful as an ideology if, and this is a big if, we aspire to see and treat each other as equals and try to make this life - the one life most of us here believe we actually do have- the best life possible for all of us.
Now, some responses to your post-
1) Anything we think we may know about Jesus is hearsay, and his supposed life is no different from the regional mythology that existed at the time (and hearsay, in my opinion, is not the best basis for a world view or belief system).
2) The so-called "teachings of Christ" are “teachings” (if they can actually be called that) of men and the so-called “Christian principles” are not really “Christian” or unique to Christianity.
As a start, consider the “Golden Rule.”
3) Was Jesus, if he existed, really as nice as everyone thinks?
And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire
Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.
And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.
And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death...... For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.
At that time Jesus went on the Sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat.
For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first....the last shall be first, and the first last
And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.
4) “Pray constantly and faithfully.”
5) A fundamental basis for Christianity is human sacrifice- not only human sacrifice, but a so-called father sacrificing a son. Now add to this already horrific belief that this so-called son suffered and died in our place. The human sacrifice is appalling enough, but to think someone else should/can die for the transgressions of another to make things “right” makes no sense, on many levels – as a simply analogy, is justice really served by sentencing an innocent third party to death for a murder you committed? All of this, and yes, I once believed these things too, makes absolutely no sense when you really think about it.
Hitchens nicely covers this:
I saw your post on the other thread through my email and I am a rising 3rd year. It is awesome to meet a somewhat like-minded person on here and though I have yet to meet anybody on this Earth who thinks and believes everything I do about anything, I am sure we see most things very similar. What is your specialty?
"I believe most of us who visit or post on this website, whether we call ourselves freethinkers, agnostics, atheists, etc., likely do not believe there is sufficient evidence, at this time, to believe in a god. Similarly, “good feelings” or benevolence, love, etc, would, to most of us, probably simply be products of humanity and do not necessarily need to be linked to a god, religion, etc." I would agree with you that this is the truth of the way things are.
"If there is common ground that may help us all, I believe it would be to recognize our common kinship as humans and try to help each other." I agree completely and I should point out that this is one of the things that I love about the teachings of Jesus except that he takes it a step further and shows us how to recognize our kinship not only as carnal humans but as children of the universe.
"Christianity, although professing to promote love, kindness, etc., also overtly expresses “conversion” as its goal so as to prevent people form “losing their souls, ” “going to hell,” etc. Ultimately, Christian beliefs condemn non-Christians, either in this life or the next, in some malevolent way to the “wrath” of the Judeo-Christian god. To me, such ideology is potentially very dangerous, since it ultimately judges other humans as not worthy of life (and it matters not whether it is in this life or the Christian belief in the next)." I agree with the dangerousness of this false teaching and I speak against it whenever I can. This is not the teaching of Jesus, this is the teaching of the church. It is the false doctrine that fuels the false teaching . The current and traditional christian view of hell and conversion is crap and it disgusts me to be honest. I see how people read into the scripture to interpret the unhealthy way, but they are wrong and though it is the mainstream view of christianity, it is not the view of all christians nor as I said, the correct one. Jesus teaches a much different thing than the church.
"Furthermore, I do not think Christian ideology is very useful as an ideology if, and this is a big if, we aspire to see and treat each other as equals and try to make this life - the one life most of us here believe we actually do have- the best life possible for all of us." The above "christian" ideology that you have shared isn't useful. It is crap. It seems so funny to me cuz this statement you just made: "if, we aspire to see and treat each other as equals and try to make this life - the one life most of us here believe we actually do have- the best life possible for all of us." <= this is what Jesus teaches. It makes me ashamed knowing that the majority of the church doesn't follow Jesus' commandment to "love your neighbor as yourself". Jesus' message was simply to equally (justly) love others and to do this by healing them and feeding them and just basically selflessly serving them no matter the cost to self. It is sad that so many people miss the point and to me, an "atheist" that lives in this manner is my brother and a "christian" who doesn't is no family of mine.
And my responses to yours:
1) I agree with you that the gospels were written many many years after the death of Jesus. I have studied much about the history of the scripture and and well familiar with the many arguments for and against the authenticity and accuracy of scripture. As a scientist, as you understand, I can't have peace with just blindly accepting something. I have to study and know at least what is most probable when something can't be proved or disproved. With all of that said, I should point out to you one fact that I can't seem to deny is that here we have an account, that may be false, however, for some reason, millions if not billions of people read and copied and recopied and passed this account along over two thousand years to the point where it has become the bestselling book of all time and Jesus the most popular person that ever lived. While it may be false, and I could just attribute this as a fluke fueled by religion, but that wasn't satisfying to me and I hypothesized that there must be something of value within the texts that I might have missed. There have been a lot of people that discovered something valuable to them in there...but maybe it is really nothing after all.
2) I agree completely and never said it did. Another really good example is the flood story which seems to have similar counterparts in every major world religion and some minors.
3) I really would have to spend the next 3 hours addressing each of these scriptures individually and even adding a few better ones to your repertoire but I just can't commit that sort of time to this right now. If you had one or two that you would like to focus on I can do that. Most of those are taken out of context or are illustrations that are conveying a deeper principle and one that is not violent at all. I could also counter with so many scriptures on love and peace and service and healing, etc, etc. I would say that the very few scriptures which IMO really do convey Jesus in a negative light are statistical outliers when we look at his character and personality as a whole and thus I treat them as such because, after all, isn't the scripture all hearsay anyways??? <= refer back to 1) ^^^ above :)
4) I have read some studies on prayer and it's efficacy and am usually really discouraged by the biases I find. I do know there to be power in prayer and nMRI and PET imaging have revealed some interesting things. I am actually really into neurotheology and I have some really good article on neurotransmitter activity and other related discoveries. I can also share with you personal experiences that have led me to form my own hypotheses regarding some of this and some of which studies are revealing including one study I have found that shows a inverse relationship between 5HT1A receptor and "spiritual acceptance" which is what I had previously predicted based on my personal experiences and knowledge of biochemistry and neuroanatomy. My view of prayer and what to expect by it is very different than that of most people. I see evidence also of endorphin release based upon prayer though I am not sure if it is restricted to a certain group of endorphin or to them all as a whole, but it is my hypothesis that there is a link there. I have not had time to review the literature yet regarding this. Finally, prayer has the power to shape our thoughts in a very positive manner. For instance, if I am walking around all day thinking negative things, my words and reactions are going to reflect this and thus my world will be shaped by this. The opposite is true regarding the reverse...stimulus response theory (I can't remember the proper name of the exact theory I am thinking of at the moment). Prayer, especially personal intercessory prayer, really sets the one who is praying up to be a conduit of positive thoughts, feelings and energies and will further empower them to serve others in love. I have seen this to be true in my own life and in the lives of others to deny it as the most plausible theoretical framework regarding this. To imagine cuz I am praying for a new limb to sprout or some such nonsense is just that...
5) Actually, my first real understanding to the power of sacrifice came from more dark ritualists studies early on. I have read into the more ancient sacrificial systems including those that exists before Jesus was around including the earliest examples of sacrifice human or otherwise. There is something to the sacrificial system...if there wasn't people would not have practiced it for thousands of years. There was some benefit that they were receiving from it. Once again, I would encourage you to keep looking cross-culturally to see if you can identify the value in it that those people identified. On a little bit of a different note, when was the last time that you selflessly sacrificed something for the good of another? Time, money, food, something that was your favorite? It made you feel good to do it even though you suffered for it. The good that came from it far outweighed your suffering, hopefully...lol.
Anyways, looking forward to your response bro :)