Christianity and the death of me…
I am unique. I do not think like anybody I’ve ever known or learned about. This is a fact. It does not matter whether or not you believe me. You who live in a world of same-kind-of-people find the notion of a unique human unacceptable. “Don’t be ridiculous,” you say, “humans are humans.” Not so. There may be others in this world who think as I but I have yet to find one. And this uniqueness has been the death of me.
My unique perspective has never been compatible with Christianity. Never. I was never a “good Christian” to anybody. I very early on saw through the hypocracy, the absurdity, the obvious blindness of Christians. I always questioned their loyalty to the one they name themselves after (Christ). I condemned their cowardice, their stupidity and especially their gullibility. But although I saw through the hypocrisy, the lies, the way Christians “talked the talk” but never “walked the walk” I still clung to Christianity itself for a very, very long time. I did so because in my heart I always believed in the teachings of Jesus. These I was loyal to when all else failed.
Problem is, Christianity is not a religion based upon “Christ.” Christians have for centuries found ways to dismiss the huge differences between the tiny Gospel glimpses of what is probably the true Jesus and everything else in Christianity. But those on the outside looking in can see how obviously opposite are what Christians do and what Christ said. Christians can’t–or won’t see it for themselves.
Christianity, as anyone who has done a little honest historical research can tell you, was created entirely by a group of men a couple hundred years after Jesus–whoever he was–lived and died in Israel. Those men, with the blessings of a “converted” Roman emperor, created a fictional religion out of a powerful religious movement that threatened their power and authority because it raised the humble and brought down the high-and-mighty. They concocted a religion that would serve them and establish them as leaders. They used the words and a few of the trappings of the religious movement started by Jesus, just enough to be deceptive, and built up around them such a pack of lies, misguided doctrines, confusing points of view as has never been perpetrated on the earth before or since. It was all about power, not faith. It still is. Of course, power and money are virtually synonymous so it’s more accurate to say Christianity is all about power and MONEY.
One must study history outside church archives to find out the real truth of Christianity. Of course all the ugly history of the church is probably buried in the Vatican’s bowels but nobody is likely to get access to those. The church under Constantine brutally suppressed any doctrine opposing the official doctrine. Once the leadership had established their convoluted, self-serving doctrines they went on a massive killing spree. They hunted down and murdered many who followed a different set of beliefs, among them the original Christian sects whose teaching of pacifism, communal life and simple living was not conducive to building a Christian empire. The church burned all texts, wiping out anything they found that might contradict their doctrine. We know this mostly because the few who escaped left texts behind, hidden in desert stashes where they were preserved, texts that have come to light in the past hundred years or so. We have these ancient texts now only because the church no longer has the power to slaughter “heretics” as it once did.
The truth is hidden from the faithful. It’s even hidden from many clergy. The existence of contradictory records is one of the main reasons church leadership even today so adamantly speaks against “secular” education. Of course they would, the truth would undermine their authority.
Church fathers set traps to prevent acceptance of truthful histories. They anticipated that eventually some would learn about their own horrid practices and find them unChristian. Christian leaders say only someone “in the spirit” can understand truth, including historical truth. They claim “secular” history (as opposed to “true” Christian historical texts written by and taught by men and women “led by the spirit”) are flawed and are the “work of the devil.” (Of course they are. Everybody knows the evil old devil is out to get every Christian. He hates Christians and the church! Bad, bad devil! ) It’s an absurd ploy to keep Christians from looking up truth on their own. The sad thing is that it works quite well.
There’s a lot of brain washing in Christendom! Christianity is an “us vs. them” religion. For all the “we love the world” and “Christ so loved the world” rhetoric, especially in evangelical circles, it’s all about “us” to the Christian. Evangelism is merely a form of Christianity that seeks to “rescue” a few more than other Christian sects. But evangelicals, like all Christians, look down their self-righteous noses to declare only the faithful are going to heaven. The rest are going to burn, baby, burn. So much for “God so loved the WHOLE WORLD!”
There’s nothing “Christ-like” in Christianity. Christianity is all about The Book. Without The Book Chrisitanity is nothing. It was an incredible stroke of genious by the church founders to develop The Book and place it atop the church. Well over a millennium and a half ago Church Fathers recognized how powerful their reign would be if they based it not on “spiritual whims” but on an authoritive text. And of course they were the only ones qualified to expound on the text’s true meaning! Ministers and Kings were the only ones who could read! The original idea was to develop a book they could use and quote from and point to as providing the authority for their existence. Because of the ignorance of the pouplation some church leaders even added on their own little portions now and again when political or financial expedience became necessary.
The book they created a book of legends, half-truths, and absurdities and married it to carefully edited Jewish texts for continuity. With the exception of the Gospels the true message of Jesus is not found in it. Even the gospels are suspect for their brevity and because they differ from one to the other. In the writings of Paul Church fathers found the legalism they desired to turn the freedom and grace of Jesus into a religion of rules needing strong authority. Ancient prophecies and Reveleation were added to point out what really happened to “sinners” who failed to repent.
For centuries priests remained at the top of the power structure, right alongside Kings. A couple hundred years ago the power of the priesthood faded when the power of Kings gave way to new governments. “The People” could now read. They started choosing their own governments (sort-of!). Christians, too, could read The Book for themselves. Unfortunately though, by then The Book had taken on mystical status all its own. Since it was written as a continuation of and support for Christian leaders and continued the flawed doctrines created by the ancient papacy, it perpetuated the same ridiculous belief structure once contrived by the preisthood. Thus the massive deception called the Christian Bible carried on, only now in the hands of poorly educated and ill-prepared zealots who tried to figure out its inconsistencies by relying upon the commentaries of papists and religious scholars trained by them. It remains deified as no other book in history has ever been and gives authority and power to those who claim to be annointed. In return, the annointed lift the Bible as the “Sword of Truth” and build their empires on a human work rather than the real Truth. Christians do not worship “Christ” or “God.” They worship an image of a deity created by the book. Above all, though they will never admit it, they worship the book itself. So did I once upon a time.
Modern protestant Christianity convenienly side-steps the worship of the texts by saying they worship “The Word” who is “Christ.” How clever that those early church fathers blended the book with the “Savior” in such a way that they became one thing. No better evidence of this meddling can be found than in the opening words of the gospel of John: “IN the BEGINNING was the WORD …the WORD became flesh and dwelt among men.” How easily these words lead gullible Christians to connect a book of legends and screwy ideas with their deity. I bought it hook, line and sinker.
Speaking against any tiny part of THE BOOK is, in the mind of a Christian, just as bad a heresy as speaking against “Christ himself.” Here, again, is an indoctrination that began many, many centuries ago. THE BOOK is a gift to mankind from THE HOLY SPIRIT and everybody knows blasphemy against the HOLY SPIRIT is not good. Of course there’s no such thing as a “Holy Spirit,” Trinitarinism being another concoction of church fathers, too, but who’s looking that one up? I’m just glad the rack and assorted other tortures are not still approved for heretics!
In only a few paragraphs I have managed to speak against everything that is “Holy.” Any Christian who reads this will probably enter into some kind of shaking fit, incredulous that a human could write such horrid heresy. How dare I! How dare I speak against the Holy Spirit, the Church, and OMG! the BIBLE itself! How dare I? How dare YOU stand in judgment of anyone at all! How dare you claim your religion is based upon the teachings of a mild mannered pacifist and ignore his every word! How dare you preachers and elders and self-righteous followers destroy the lives of so many who refuse to accept or cannot follow your stringent and misguided path to the “free” salvation you offer?
I was lecturing my children about lying and excuses the other day. I told them to watch out for the “Yeah, but” argument. I told them not to use it on me. Rationalizations are not acceptable excuses for misbehavior. In Christian circles the “Yeah but” argument is used religiously, if I may put it that way. “Aren’t people saved by grace?” “Yeah, but… they’re not supposed to continue in sin!” Well, then, aren’t we all sinners? “Yeah, but, we’re supposed to deny our ‘sin nature’.” Christianity has yeah-butted its way through century after century. “Isn’t killing wrong?” “Yeah, but… war is inevitable…” or “Yeah, but… they were heretics….” etc. Was I once a devout Christian? Yeah, but I suddenly woke up to the yeah but’s of it.
If I live long enough and get the wherewithall to do it I might write a real book about the fakery of Christianity. It would be a futile task, though. Christians are so good at “Yeah butting” their way out of any uncomfortable situation they’d just turn the whole thing back on my head and get me roasted on a stick. At least, they’d long for the days when such was possible.
From ancient history to more recent…. I showed up at a time in American culture when Christianity had become such a part of American society that all areas of life oozed with Christianese. Those loud-mouthed idiots who claim “liberals are trying to stamp out Christianity” are, to be kind, some of the stupidest people in America. No nation on earth is more “Christianized” than America. Though there are obvious disagreements over assorted right wing political absurdities the fact remains that the left in America oozes Christianese as much as the right does. Don’t be fooled for a second. The “Founding Fathers” of Christianity succeeded beyond their wildest dreams whether or not the American founding fathers were themselves Deists. If Washington, Jefferson and others WERE deists it was the Judeo-Christian God they referenced. Christianity has permeated American thought with its religious attitudes to such an extent that it’s unlikely any non-Christian religion will ever get much of a foothold.
I was born a Baptist. Even though the phrase “there are no Christian grandchildren” is quite common as an introduction to the “salvation” message it’s not true at all. Christians expect their kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, to be Christian. (On her death bed my mother worried over my “salvation” even as she was fully aware I was studying and claiming to be Buddhist.) Parents begin indoctrination of their children from the beginning. Of course this isn’t unusual. All religious groups do the same. I suppose most of the time it’s not so bad because kids grow up with “Christian” values and though they push the church to evolve (and force changes in puritanical attitudes) they, for the most part, remain faithful to the spirit of the church. All is well.
All is well, that is, until one of two things happen. All is well until the faith utterly fails someone or until someone wakes up to the hypocracy and deception of the church. Both happened to me.
Notice I did not mention anything about those who “stray.” There’s a whole sub-culture in America (and I suppose all Christian cultures) of “the strayed.” These are people who walked away from the church because of their “lusts” or a few doubts or because their ambition conflicted with church teaching. These people never abandon the church, they merely step out the back door to take a smoke (like good Baptist men used to do when I was a kid). They don’t have a part in my little story. I am not one of them. I did, once or twice, drift into their ranks but then only briefly. My destruction came as I was being my own little zealot self inside the church, not standing out among the “sinners.”
Back to the “two things.” Through the years my faith did fail me. The faithful failed me and others around me. Through the years I had countless times to be bitter because of it and sometimes I actually was. I tried the blame game, the not me game, the name-your-enemy game. I invented a few other games, too. Repeatedly over the years my crashes came not when I was out in “the world” but when I was at the pinacle, when I was struggling with all my might to raise the baner of righteousness, when I was throwing caution to the wind and believing God would have the day. For a long time I believed I would die a martyr for Jesus. I made myself that martyr over and over. I took chances, I stuck my neck out, I took stands for righteousness and truth and ethics that got me chewed up and spit out over and over.
The word “blame” has come to be a negative word in American (Christian) society. “Don’t play the blame game,” people say. But the word is, in fact, neutral. The primary definition for the word is “to hold responsible.” My life has surely been destroyed and the destruction was caused by Christianity. I am being neither cruel nor vindictive, then, in “blaming” Christianity for my current state. And it’s no game, it’s real.
Immediately I can hear the words of those within the church and maybe many outside it who insist I have only myself to blame. I DO have myself to blame but even then I am to blame only insofar as I clung to something I believed to be a Truth that turned out to be a lie. I clung to that truth in the face of hypocracy and condemned Christians because they denied it and drew the wrath of the faithful. I might also be to blame because of my genetic disposition to be who I am. But the word “blame” implies choice and I have had no choice in being the person I was born to be. I can place some of the blame for my demise on my parents for their “Christianity” and their insistence I be a Christian but I cannot fault them for the genetic traits they passed on to me. I suppose the only one to blame for genetics is God, if indeed God is responsible for our genetic makeup. But then why would God put a genetic disposition to oppose Christian hypocracy in me that would inevibably lead me away from Christianity? Good question!
Having discovered the historical truth of Christian deception from the top down I cannot hold those whose misguided attitudes ripped my spiritual guts out entirely responsible. I hold them somewhat responsible because they, too, had the glimpses of Truth that I had, glimpses buried in the few words preserved in the Big Book of Bunk spoken by Jesus himself. They could have taken the time to recognize how totally incongruous the words of Jesus recorded in the Gospels are to the rest of the text. But they didn’t. They didn’t because they, unlike myself, float on a sea of deception quite easily. So they played their unwitting part in killing me though few of them did so in a vindictive manner.
Some Christians were vindictive. In the “real” world Christians are just as cold blooded, power hungry and self-serving as all the rest. Though they claim to be different it is my experience that they are not. I’ve crashed against my share of “christian” bosses. I’ve felt their boot up my rear. But they were not the straws on my camel, either. Neither was my continually skeptical attitude towards assorted Christian beliefs, practices and doctrines. No, it was my last hurah, my last attempt to be Don Quixote, that led me to a serious investigation into christinity’s past and brought about my untimely end.
The last episode I had with Christians, when I depended upon them for support and help in our (my wife and my) nobel effort to rescue children from abuse, was just enough to do the trick. It’s an old horse I beat, this one, but I revisit this story because it was the horrid outcome of the dream called Wilderhaven that at last let me see that Christians were really something I did not ever want to be. Since they float on a sea of deception and have no true foundation (that Solid Rock they claim is their footing is merely an illusion) they are almost always cowards. Cowardice, like lying, is a trait I just can’t stand.
Let me explain. From my early days as a teenage zealout through my whole Christian life I’ve crashed into chicken-shit Christians over and over. Crude words, certainly, but quite acurate. Once, when I was involved with Teen Challenge, I drove into the South Dallas projects to get a couple kids for church. The pastor of Teen Challege told me I was crazy to do that. “White people die down there!” So much for “Onward Christian soldiers….” etc. I “William Wallaced” myself into the ground countless times, pushing ahead with the flag, the Bible and “In the spirit” as it were, only to look back and find myself utterly alone. I’ve been hung out to dry on several occasions. Wilderhaven was just the last of many. So there’s the problem I have with wishy-washy Christians.
Then there’s my lack of perfection. Christians have a quirky attitude towards the word “perfect.” Evangelicals, especially, are schizophrenic about the term. They say, “nobody is perfect,” that Christians are “sinners saved by grace” and all that gobbledegook. Then they’ll say they’re “made perfect in Christ.” In Christian circles perfection isn’t proven by living a perfect lifestyle. Perfection is measured in conformity. One is judged sinner or saint based upon how well he or she conforms to the particular standards of a given Christian denomination or group. In such a world a nonconformist like me has little chance. My refusal to conform “just because” eventually drove wedges between me and every Christian I’ve ever known.
I am not perfect. Really! In the sense of being a conformist I am not perfect and in the true sense of being “without fault” I am absolutely not perfect. In fact, I’m pretty much of a screw-up. I have few talents. In dealing with (or merely understanding) people, I have no talent whatsoever. I have personality quirks, too. I can be too demanding, to insistent on honesty, too judgmental when I see cowardice. I find it difficult to respect people who choose to be stupid rather than exercise their mental faculties. And on occasion I can go off half-cocked. I am NOT stupid. I know these things. I work on them. I always have. Having them is not the problem, though, in Christianity. The problem is being “human,” admitting to being human, and still seeking to be a Christian leader, THAT is unacceptable. We’re never supposed to acknowledge our faults but to dismiss them and hide them under “Grace’s” skirt.
I’ve said it and I’ve heard it said, Christians kill their wounded. Like baby chicks that peck at little blemishes on other chicks until they kill the chick with an unfortunate blemish, Christians stab nasty little barbs into those among them who refuse to conform and who, heaven forbid, admit to their faults. I’ve seen movies about the Amish where someone is shunned because of a particularly heinous sin. Though the practice is informal rather than established by elders these days Christians I’ve known still practice shunning. Shunning is a very ugly thing to do. It is entirely opposite to what Jesus taught. Peter asked how many times he should forgive. “Seven times?” Jesus replied, “no, Peter, seventy times seven.” In other words, don’t count the times, just forgive. Yet another instance where the words of Jesus are always trumped by the teaching of church doctrines and Christian societal practices. And yet another way Christian societal practices crashed against my belief in following the words of Jesus instead of convention.
In the end, everything became too much. In the end I saw through the whole shroud. In the end I was able to recognize that in all things I had deceived myself as much as I’d been deceived and as much as others are deceived. In the end I recognized everything I believed, all the truth I thought was truth, was lies.
There’s a scene in the classic John Wayne movie where Wayne played David Crocket at the Alamo. In the final battle a friend of Crocket is shot. “They kilt me Davey!” he cries. I’ve had my Alamo. It was Christianity that kilt me. In my case I was not surrounded by friends but locked in a closet all by myself. When a Christian dies in a closet does anybody hear the sound?
I am a dead Christian. I died because my life up until only a few months ago was based upon Christianity and when Christianity died in my heart so did the guy who was a fabrication of it. That guy and all he stood for is as dead as a dinosaur fossil. Dead and gone forever.
Yet still I breathe. Still the fingers move on a keyboard, the mind directs them, the heart inside the fleshly thing people have forever seen as me still beats. How can that be? How is it even possible? The dead man lives. My body lives and my mind continues. The person I was died while the consciousness that held it remains alive.
It is possible because we are the sum of parts. Humans are the result of a coming together of many factors, only a part of which is religious belief. Religious beliefs are not even requisite. This is the greatest deception of all.
Christians cling to their religion even when it causes them incredible pain, when it makes no sense, when it trashes them or crashes them against the rocks on the bank of the River Jordan. They cling because they have been convinced that if they turn loose they will fall into the abys, they will go to hell, they will forever be lost. They cling to a hope that “some day” they will be rescued by Jesus or “some day” he will suck them up in the great and dramatic Rapture. They cling because they believe not to cling means the death at the end of death, “eternal death.” If this is true, then I’m there. To be honest, it’s not nearly as scary a place as I thought it would be.
The story of Gautama who became the Buddha begins when many years ago Siddhartha Gautama, a grand prince in a land of poverty, saw terrible things outside his protected world. He could not reconcile his life of ease with the life of peasants. He thus left his life of luxury and entered the world in search of something that would end the suffering of all beings. He knew that even if he gave every bit of his personal wealth away he could not end their suffering. What happened after he left his luxurious life is, as Paul Harvey used to say, is “the rest of the story.” But Gautama’s beginning wraps up the end of this story for me.
Gautama’s story is a metaphor of my own life. I lived not in a lap of physical luxury but in a world of “forgiveness” floating in a sea of pain. That “Good Old Gospel Ship” might have been safe and secure for me but over the gunnel I saw far too many humans who would not or could not be brought on board. I heard Christian after Christian declare that things in that sea were deadly, that if they were brought onto the deck of the Gospel Ship it would sink. We might be called to “fish” for men but woe to any who touched the world those men were living in. All my life, though, I was filled with compassion and longing to help the people in the sea. Gautama’s castle and that Ship I speak about are one and the same.
The metaphor of Christians being “fishers of men” certainly fits here. I sometimes hung way out and swung the net wide. I wasn’t a very good fisherman, though. But even when good anglers scooped up many thousands the net never seemed big enough. It never made any sense that some would be left. Why would an omnipotent God who “so loved the world” only choose a few? Why did Jesus SAY he died for the world when he really didn’t? I was confused.
I concluded, finally, that either Jesus really did die for all or Jesus is a fraud. I concluded, too, that there was far more to humanity than I was told and that humanity itself is not an evil thing. Calvin was an idiot. Finally, I knew in my heart that there was nothing in Christianity at all that I could be comfortable with and almost nothing I believed. So, to jump around in metaphors, in that closet, while at war with all that I saw as Christianity, I simply gave up. I opened the door and walked away. Christianity did not shoot me. Christianity killed me like it has killed many others in the past. It squashed me beneath its feet like the bug it saw me as. I squirted out from beneath its shoe to become something else entirely.
For all Christian intents and purposes, I am now dead. Christians talk about “dying to the world.” I am, to turn the phrase, “dead to Christianity.”
I am fully aware of how horrible my words must sound to the members of my family who still ride that Ol Gospel Ship. I don’t expect them to see what I’ve seen, to consider anything I’ve said with more than a passing sad assumption I’m deluded, nor to jump ship themselves. I would hope they’d be awakened to the hypocracy in their own lives and try to eliminate it but I doubt even that will happen. No, I’ll just be prayed for and when I die, if I go before them, I will be written off as one poor relative on the toaster. There’s not much I can do about that.
When I died I lost the ability to have faith. I lost the desire or expectation of prayer. I lost touch with the here-after. I am absolutely positive the Christian version of “before” and “after” our life is a fabrication but I don’t know what is out there. If there is a true and “just” God, if Jesus’ version of a Father exists, none of us have anything to worry about. If Gautama’s assumptions are right, that our consciousness moves from one life to the next until we find perfection in Enlightenment and reach Nirvana, well, so be it. Whatever comes next I believe absolutely that something does. ‘Till I find out, In the mean time, the dead man still lives.
In my case the dead Christian is a living Buddhist. Gautama left his castle. I jumped ship. From history to metaphore, we travel together. The Buddha suffered incredibly from the time he road away from his father’s riches until he at last sat beneath that Bodhi tree and found enlightenment. He was an ascetic for six years, living in poverty, at times beating himself to purify his mind, living as a destitute. I kind’of hope I don’t have six years of that to go. But then having left the blessed Jesus’ bandwagon and stepped up behind the blessed Buddha’s troup I am happy to note Buddha did the hard work for me. My challenge is two-fold. First I have to wrestle my mind away from yesterday and next I have to settle it into today. Buddha’s teaching will help me do both.
As I probe deeper into Gautama’s teaching I discover the “me” I thought I was, the me that died, wasn’t really real after all. In a weird kind of way the dead me is the not-me and because it is thus the not-me is alive again. But this bit of strange contradiction must wait for another day. Meanwhile, to my family looking on from the railing, don’t worry folks, down here the water’s fine and not nearly the poluted mess you thought it was! Being dead isn’t so bad at all.
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