(Sometimes) I have to draw a line…

well said sir... well said...
well said sir… well said…

I’m a pretty liberal guy. I believe in gay marriage, immigration reform and socialized medicine. I vote democrat. I try to respect different points of view and cherish the beauty in different kinds of people. However, there are times where I have to draw my tolerance line in the sand. One of those times was when this video popped up in my Facebook feed. Creationism=instant rage.

Don’t get me wrong. I fully support a creationist’s right to believe their scientifically incorrect bastardization of the Christian Bible. Just like I support the KKK holding white supremacy rallies–I absolutely hate what they believe and will do everything in my power to stand against what they preach. But I agree they have the freedom to believe it as long as they aren’t breaking any laws.

3p12z7
but that means I would have to question God, right?

However it is people like this, so inflexibly attached to their way of thinking, who fly jetliners into tall buildings. Parents who brainwash their children into creationist beliefs are child abusers, just as much as a racist brainwashes their children into hating people of color. It’s how all fundamentalist systems are perpetuated; through rejection of debate and critical thought in lieu of a creed which has no other backing than “because I told you so.”

#ohsnap
#ohsnap

My wife and I were volunteer educators for the Clark County Wetlands Park when we lived in Nevada. It was our job to take groups out into the wetlands and desert and talk about the flora, fauna, ecosystems and geology of the area. My favorite part was seeing the look on children’s faces when we would come across coyote tracks or find an owl pellet to dissect. I helped make science and the natural world fun and amazing! Every group was great…

Except for one. My wife and I were signed up to lead a small group one morning of a few parents and their kids. I didn’t think anything was amiss until one of the adults pulled us aside before we began and told us that the children were home schooled and if we could please just leave out any mention of geology and evolution. For a moment, I had no idea what this guy was talking about. Heather had to explain it to me, and even then I couldn’t believe it.

wait! remember when Lot's wife looked back!
wait! remember when Lot’s wife looked back!

This guy didn’t ask me to lie to the kids (the parents did that themselves). But they did ask me to withhold the truth (which I shamefully did). Heather and I tried to sneak in bits and pieces of science into trip. Unfortunately, instead of an experience of exploration, this time our tour was more like visiting the zoo. “Oh look, a bird. Isn’t it pretty?” and “This is a tree. Isn’t that wonderful?” I felt sorry for the kids and pissed off at their parents for the lies and misinformation they fed into their minds.

That was the day I drew my line in the sand. I went from merely tolerating creationism to opposing it. There is a reason I work at a nonprofit that fights against injustice, poverty and slavery. I believe these things are wrong and that I can do something about them. I see creationism as an injustice just as bad as homophobia and racism. It makes our society and culture worse. I’m a peaceful guy; I really just want to live and let live. But sometimes you just have to say “No! This is wrong!”

And this is wrong.

Ending a relationship…

Not actually me.

I used to be a religious man. I was a Christian; a Catholic to be precise. I did my best to read the bible. I enjoyed the community of ritual. I even entered seminary for a brief time. I wasn’t perfect; far from it. But I tried, and repented, and tried again. When I was young, it was easy to believe. As I got older, I began to struggle with dualism and dogmatic concepts. My religious views said one thing. My rational mind said others.

Recently, a friend of mind told me that the Church was making it very hard to be a believer. In fact, he was considering Atheism. I told him that was a ballsy move. It was a similar statement of belief in an un-provable objective truth. He countered that the Church was making a good case for him leaning on the atheist end of agnosticism.

I found this to be a much better statement. And a true one.

Subtle, right?

For the last 5 years I have been struggling in much the same way. I would go to Christian services, but I could no longer say the words. I felt like a liar when asked to repeat the Apostles’ Creed or to sing the Gloria. It felt wrong to go through words and motions I no longer felt and no longer believed. Trust me, I tried to believe. I WANTED to believe.

It was sad.

It was like the end of a relationship where you hang on, not because you want to, but because you feel you have no choice. What would my family think? What about my friends? What about my church community? There was no more love. No more commitment. No more emotion. Just guilt and shame. And more guilt. And more shame.

yeah… it’s a hard sell…

But I had run into the same issue my friend had. The Church had made it too easy to lean on the atheist side of agnosticism. Not just because of the hypocrisy in the patriarchal leadership, sex abuse scandals, or outdated views on human sexuality. I had serious doubts regarding trinitarianism, the nature/concept of sin, transubstantiation/consubstantiation, and the existence of an afterlife. For those unchurched, these are foundational beliefs for any Christian. If you don’t believe in them, you are not part of the club. You are what people lovingly refer to as an apostate.

 

And then they damn you to hell.

Why won’t you just love me?!?!

I no longer believe in such things. But it still hurts. People who I love, because of their faith, are confident that I am going to burn in fire and torment for eternity. It doesn’t matter how much good I do in my lifetime, how much peace and love and reconciliation I bring to others, or how many good deeds I do. Because I am no longer a believer, I am going to hell.

This bothers me because these are the same people who say they love me. They BELIEVE I am so wrong and so flawed that I would deserve eternal damnation. Then they say, “But I don’t want you to go to hell. It’s just the truth. I’ll pray for you.”

That’s like a southern person saying, “Bless her heart.”

Trust me, that’s not what they’re really saying.

non religious does not mean non spiritual

So I do the only thing I can do. I forgive them. Just because I am no longer a religious man, does not mean I am no longer a spiritual man. My experience tells me I have emotional connections and responses not only to other human beings, but to my community and world. I find inspiration, beauty and joy in the mundane. I still encounter the peak experience. I have a need to explore what it means to be human. I recognize that there is an extra dimension to my existence, and I want to investigate what that is with a rational mind and an open heart.

I have found a church and community that encourages this. Unitarian Universalism.

These are their beliefs:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Much like a new relationship, it’s all sparkles and rainbows. It’ll be hard getting over my ex. But it’s time to move on. I’ll let you all know how things work out for the long haul. But at least I’m moving forward.