Rethinking My Beliefs about God Apart From Traditional Christianity

Why Christianity Is An Epic Fail

In Atonement, Deception, Freedom, God, Life, Suffering on June 20, 2011 at 12:23 am

On the last day of school this year, my 13 year old yelled “Fire!” along with a handful of other students, then opened the emergency door of the bus and they all jumped out and went home. The following email is my response to the school regarding the issue:

Dear Superintendent of Transportation,

Concerning Jonah’s fake fire drill on the bus, I had heard the story from several of the students who were either involved in or who witnessed it immediately after its occurrence. All of their stories matched up fine.

From what I understand, the bus was at a complete stop near a sidewalk landing when it happened and the students knew beforehand that the bus would be unable to move once the emergency door was opened.

I understand why this action is against school policy but I am not sure how the event placed anyone in imminent danger or violated safety precautions. It would help if you could explain this more clearly.

This seems out of character for Jonah who is a continuous 4.0 student and graduated from 8th grade with honors and positive remarks from teachers. Since he is enrolled in a grade higher than other students his age, he has felt tremendous pressure to fit in socially with kids who are older than him. In other words, he might do something out of the ordinary in order to prove himself and maintain his friendships. Think of it as a college fraternity initiation or other possible ways you might be able to relate.

Secondly, as far as I understand, the bus driver had shown disrespect toward Jonah and his friend when the driver previously grabbed them by their shirts and forced them to the front of the bus after they were being too loud. I had also heard stories of the bus driver cussing out the students when they wouldn’t quiet down. Do these actions by the bus driver fall within school regulations? As a parent, I find this a little disturbing. I would never treat my children this way no matter what rules they had broken. I also find that if I respect my kids, they will go out of their way to return it.

It makes sense to give Jonah a consequence for breaking the bus rules and we have already dealt with the issue at home, but do you also intend to address the bus driver’s behavior? And since it was not an isolated event, do you plan on giving consequences to every student involved in the incident?

I can understand the bus driver’s frustrations (personally, I would not want the job) but the kids who ride this bus did not have problems with the prior bus driver. More than once I have had to encourage Jonah to be patient and show maturity to his current driver who seems to have a short temper.

Lastly, I would like to ask that in the future you do not come to my house (especially unannounced on a weekend) to inform me of my child’s school behavior. If you cannot reach me by phone, a letter by mail or an email will suffice. Thank you for your understanding.

I am including the superintendent of the school as well as Jonah’s school principal and Jonah’s father in this email message to ensure that all necessary decision makers hear the defendant’s side of the story.

I’m sure your job goes unappreciated too often and events like this one do not make it any more pleasant for you, but I trust that you will decide on a fair and apt consequence for all parties involved in this last-day-of-school event.

If you have any questions or further comments for me, please reply all, and I will be happy to correspond with you in the online presence of the other authorities.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth K

I love my life as a mom.

In the last 14 years as a parent of four kids, I’ve learned a couple of hard lessons. This blog post is about one of them, in my usual round about way.

I think the endeavor to declare war on kids lacks intelligence – especially if there are more of them than you. If a child (or anyone for that matter) has any self-dignity, they can figure out rather quickly how to make your life miserable if necessary.

This is why the best way to confine another human being is to make them think they are not worthy of or capable of freedom. Then they won’t even try to question your control… unless the plan backfires, of course.

And this is the essence of war. In order to win, one side must somehow overpower the other side and bring the enemy into submission of a desired will. I intend to win the case against the school district because I don’t feel like driving my kid to and from school next year. My human will is for my son to be allowed to ride the bus and learn to get along with his bus driver.

But there is a reason why lawyers are generally notorious for being heartless jerks. The legal system is heartless by nature in order to function according to its intent, which is to prosecute or punish. It isn’t meant to change anyone’s heart because the heart is hardly involved. If there is any behavior modification, well that is all it is.

Then why declare war on any human being? War, according to the exiled, 14th Dalai Lama should be used as a last resort. (He explained this in one of my all-time favorite speeches.) His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso also said, “If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.”

So war may work best as a final straw, in cases such as a tyranny. Since war causes suffering, its only benefit is to relieve a worse or more ongoing suffering. For example, the United States war on “Iraq” was partially implemented in order to squash any further terrorist attacks like 911….

It took a different kind of war in order to free myself from the Christian religion. It was mostly a battle in my own mind against the accusations and guilt of possibly abandoning my faith and friends. Now that I’m somewhat free, I continue the public verbal sparring in order to help others find their religious liberty too, if they want. It seems to require a significant amount of self-confidence and determination to stand up against an institution which thrives on squashing human value, capability and freedom.

Devaluing souls is how the Christian religion wins souls, as far as I see it.

In almost all of its branches, the Christian faith begins with a declaration of war between God and humanity and is entirely dependent upon this premise. Humankind sinned and God has a vengeance. The only defense attorney that can get us out of eternal torture is a theological belief in Jesus Christ….

The unsuspecting guy who lied to his family last Christmas remembers his twinge of guilt and decides he doesn’t want to take any chances. So he falls for the bait and becomes a Christian in order to save his ass.

The problem here is that the sides are monstrously uneven. Like an adult launching an attack on a child, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for an innately perfect God to bestow punishment upon an innately imperfect human soul. This is especially unjust if God himself created these human souls. Something within our created selves might want to question this Christian doctrinal foundation, if we have any worth at all.

But it’s a losing battle for the Christian religion any way you look at it. Subjects who are more like clones or slaves will not be a super great asset to any ruling power. It’s missing the vitality of life which has its roots in liberty. Eventually we get tired of the empty symbolic rituals and we long for the reality.

Souls who naturally want an abundant life might welcome resistance because it strengthens us, but we won’t last eternally underneath it. We will either grow stronger or smarter than our chains or we will give up and die.

And I strongly suspect that death leads to life, as I’ve explained in previous blog posts.

Maybe this is what resurrection life really means. Maybe it’s all about finding our freedom from religion. When Christ rose from the dead, he was no longer in a position where his punishers could harm him. He won the battle in that sense. It was through a kind of war with the religious leaders, and suffering on both sides, that he attained eternal life… and therefore freedom from his accusers.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that the nature of religion is intended to fail us at some point as we learn to rise above its harm. That is its whole purpose. It can manipulate one’s soul but only for so long before our soul naturally abandons it – if not in this life then perhaps in the next?

This gives me a lot of hope. I often doubt myself as I engage in the ugliness of tearing down Christian shackles and encouraging others to do the same. It makes some people feel really uncomfortable just watching the whole episode. But there’s just no graceful way to stand up against a religion that continually attempts to annihilate human self-worth. The provocations seem like endless sighs.

But I think our struggles are part of the plan for living a full life. It’s a beautiful day when I see a friend grow in their perception of their own power. And they don’t back down when well-meaning Christians regurgitate the warnings, threats and accusations of selfishness.

Religion as salvation is supposed to fail. While it might fool us for a while into thinking our guilt has been pardoned, we eventually realize that we are still sinners just like everyone else. And we see our need to uncomfortably face our guilt and deal with it ourselves. It’s how we grow. It’s how we flourish. It’s how we attain eternal life.

“AUTO:  On the Axiom, you will survive.

CAPTAIN: I don’t want to survive. I want to live!”

~ From the movie, WALL.E

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  1. I was just having a similar acceptance of personal responsibility for spiritual regeneration conversation with someone this morning. Salvation happens, imo, when you realize that there is no Santa Claus, no fairy godmother, no deus ex machina, nor no doctor, preacher, therapist or deity with a pill, prayer, or program that will make anything more than superficial transformation. If you don’t like who you see in the mirror, only that person in the mirror can do something about it.

  2. I recently had someone ask me if I read alot. Yes, I do but I also think alot.

    One of the thoughts I have these days is:

    Do I believe Jesus is truly God? Yes I do.

    Do I believe he created all things? Yes I do.

    Did God come to earth as Jesus to start a new religion? No, I don’t think he did. In fact he told the relgious people of the time to get over them selves. Maybe this is what we need to say to the religious people of our time. Get over your self. Jesus instructed us to care about each other, not start another denomination that does it better than the others.

    • My thoughts exactly! Currently reading “The Inescapable Love of God” by Thomas Talbot. So far, they seem to be his thoughts as well!

      It is such an amazing discovery when you screw up the courage to step out of the box that American Christianity has put around you, to find there are already other people there! =D

  3. Regardless of a student’s brain power, they still have to suffer consequences. My kids did, and others in the future will. Rationalizing it as the bus being at a full stop is nonsense. Do you realize that bus driver could have been fired for lack of control, or, for all those kids getting off at the wrong time? That he/she has a miserable job that was just made more miserable by a bunch of shit heads? And yes, my kids did goofy things too. I think the victim here is not your shining boy, but the bus driver.

    • If someone thinks of kids as shitheads, the best line of work for that person might not be as a bus driver… or as a parent.

  4. “In almost all of its branches, the Christian faith begins with a declaration of war between God and humanity and is entirely dependent upon this premise. Humankind sinned and God has a vengeance. The only defense attorney that can get us out of eternal torture is a theological belief in Jesus Christ…”

    Spot on Elizabeth. You even come miraculously close to answering your own question, “it’s all about finding our freedom from…” Not from religion, well for some that may be the answer for that particular moment in their lives. No, the “resurrection life” is more about us finding our freedom from our own restrictions – thus, ourselves.

    I received a message once a few years back. It said, “nothing can be taken that which is not freely given.” Nothing, no thing or body or spirit or demon or fairy godmother or shoe salesman… can take anything from us unless we surrender it away. However, as young children we are often taught otherwise simply because our parents knew no better. They had been taught the same when they were children and so on. Eventually, as the adult years pass in great strides, do we begin to shed away many of the shackles we have discovered ourselves bound to; religion only being one of those for some.

    Religion is more about “the other person” than it is about finding the divine self within. Ergo, it is all about judging those around us. Society has become rather expert at this, especially through our media sources. Drama is a very addictive drug currently unrecognized as such. Religion, as with many other aspects of our daily lives, are rather ho-hum without the spice of drama added. And before you know it, the purpose behind a wonderful message is lost – such as the one brought by Yeshua bin Yoseph.

    God apparently was prepared for our “evil ways” as Life contains these wonderful things called CONSEQUENCES that automatically occur in a reaction caused by our actions. Your son is learning this very lesson (albeit uncomfortably for you) in what his actions on the bus that day will mean in consequences for him. It’s a wonderful lesson to teach and learn as one action can (and usually does) cause multiple reactions from all different directions. I’m sure God is laughing hysterically at us more often than not, for we are such dense creatures when it comes to life lessons. “How many more times does this lesson need to be repeated?” He must asking us.

    We need religion about as much as we need departments of transportation (and their supervisors). We have always had the ability to travel but somewhere along the way we believed the need to organize it. Just like we have always had God (e.g. Light, Life & Love) but somewhere along the way, we believed we needed to organize it.

    Please forgive us Father, for we know naught what we do. Keep up the great work Elizabeth. You’re doing wonderful.

    • “No, the “resurrection life” is more about us finding our freedom from our own restrictions – thus, ourselves.”

      This is beautiful, Rob. Thank you for your comment.

      Would it make sense to say that I think of religion and personal restrictions as one and the same?

      • I would say that it makes perfect sense and I tend to agree with you. Perhaps that was obvious though. 😉 Enjoying your blog very much.

  5. it’s a shame Diane didn’t read your blog….

  6. Game on, keep drinking that Tiger’s blood! BTW, looking good in the pic below.

  7. What a fascinating combination of factors in this one!

    If I recall correctly, and based on my own experience I don’t doubt that most every kid had at least considered pulling this emergency door prank. I like how you are obviously going for everybody coming together to decide how this issue should be handled as they appropriately may have a say in the matter. And I don’t blame you for looking for another solution besides having to drive you son to school next year, good luck with that!

    But on top of all this you certainly do question what is really productive in your religion vs. God paradigm. The part that sticks out for me is the whole “going to war against the kids” point. It doesn’t seem hard to consider this in light of how many groups openly share that as a Christian congregation they enter into “culture wars.”

    IMO it will be a sad state of affairs if/when these crusading Christians end up being no better than teaching the law of right vs. wrong while they simultaneously claim to grace and love. I mean it’s not as if several groups have produced neurotic and fearful…..wait…..never mind.

  8. “Religion as salvation is supposed to fail.”

    This is exactly the point in this theological perspective I recently discovered. Have you heard of this stuff?

  9. Sunny was a brilliant light of a girl at 17. Her blue eyes put water to shame and her hair was every bit what her name implied. She was riding on a full bus, and she had been warned by the driver not to lean against the door, so it was shocking and yet understandable when the bus hit a chuck hole in transit, and the back door that she was leaning on so hard popped open and allowed her slight figure to fall directly out onto that Oklahoma highway on the way home from school that day. I repeat this story because it is tragically true and one of many that I can share with you about how kids inadvertently do things that lead to big trouble. I wasn’t on the bus, but my best friend was talking to her when it happened. No one wanted that. It just happened.
    In my 33 year career as a public school teacher I have seen 100’s of incidents go terribly wrong, and the only defense the system at large has at its disposal is to make another rule. It’s against the law to yell fire in a public place because people panic and they get trampled. They get hysterical. They do things that they might not do under normal circumstances, and then people get hurt.
    It’s tough that we have to have so many rules. People seem to have a way of breaking the rules that we make and then things happen and then everyone is sorry. Some people point fingers and say, “I told you so,” but that does not really fix anything. The point I am making is that we have rules for a reason, and it’s like insurance, we hope that we never have to use them or wish that we had made them before something happened. One thing we know, no matter how many rules we break, God is not angry with us.
    I went through a horrible divorce when I was younger, and lost the love of my live. I blamed myself for not being enough to hold the marriage together, but I knew that I had been abandoned by my Christian friends who then judged me as broken and a failure. I left the church where I had gotten most of my atta-boys, and I took up Buddhism. Buddhism said what I felt, and it made more sense to me. I studied for 20 years, went to Naropa, and pursued many levels and avenues of the subject. Finally, after some time, I went to the Jade Buddha Temple for a ceremony to take my vows, and met the Dalai Lama in a group of about 300 devotees. He expressed himself with humor and depth, and he was everything that I knew in my heart that he would be, and the moment came when we would take our final words. He looked directly at me and told me that I was next to go back to Christianity and not to focus on those who had given me any trouble, that I was instead to focus on understanding the depth of the message I had abandoned in my personal pain. I swore that he was, with all due respect, totally wrong and that that was not going to happen. Nevertheless, I followed his advice, and I have never looked back. I got an on-line minister’s license so that I could do prison work and visit my students when they were in the hospital. I then began to do weddings, including pre-marital counseling.
    The Ocean of Wisdom, as he is called, considers himself a Marxist of sorts in that he sees merit in social support given by Marxist equality as an ideology, and yet he supports this notion only as a method and does not claim that it has had any real world analogue since no nation has successfully been Marxist as of yet. He was able to pull a positive out of an ideology that was in its Chinese form responsible for the deaths of nearly 2 of the 5 million Tibetans alive during his brief stay in his home land.
    You seem to have 3 separate things you are dealing with: The bus driver is not a user friendly person and should probably be removed from his duties; your son broke the law and needs to understand that he put other children at risk by yelling fire in a public place; the administrator came to your house, and it sounds like he was alone, which is inappropriate and was unnecessary. These are separate ideas, and by bunching them together, your case concerning your son was made weaker and sounded more like a threat and sour grapes.
    Seek to have the bus driver removed or at least re-evaluated, and get other parents to protest along with you. Allow the school system to deal with your son’s behavior as it is, and this will strengthen the idea that you will not pull him out of fail or pay his bad debts; you have your hands full with all of the hats you are wearing, and this one is tough, but, if you bail him out, it will encourage him to make more bone-headed choices, not less. Make sure that you have some assurance from the office of the administration that the home visits are not appropriate and will stop; you don’t have to explain why, and they need to understand that you don’t have to explain why.
    I write on the web, I’m a retired teacher, and I am a mediator. My skill set says to me that these ideas are better dealt with separately, one at a time. If your son is asked to go to an alternative campus, do not think of this as the worst possible outcome. I taught at one for 20 years, and it was my pleasure to meet these kinds of problems with professionalism and privacy; I loved my job, and I did not see my students as broken people. I now work for one of my former students by writing a weekly column for his on-line newspaper, “everythingnac.com.” We’ve been close friends since he was 14, 14 years ago. I performed his wedding, and his sister’s. Wonderful things may happen if you will let them take their course.
    Oh, and one more thing. My ex-wife sent me a tape of a minister. I was sick that I had gotten this ten tape series and the thought of listening to it was simply overwhelming. I told her I would humor her but not to expect much. It was Mike Williams. We re-married the next August on what would have been our 21st wedding anniversary and have been back together now for 15 years after having had a 19 year separation. I opened myself up ever so slightly, and now I am one of a number of editors on Mike’s new book. God is one weird cat, you know?
    runningturtle87

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Chris. I actually don’t think that my son made a bone-head decision by opening the emergency door. He was tired of being called a wimp by his friends and that was one of the bravest things I think he’s ever done. He knew there would be a consequence and he’s completely fine with that.

      I simply want to get out of driving him to and from school next year. That’s not a punishment for Jonah but for his parents. And I don’t see how kicking him off the bus would solve or change the underlying issues anyway.

      An alternative school? He didn’t set off a bomb. It was a harmless prank in which the risk of anyone being hurt was slim to none.

      I have no desire to prosecute any bus drivers. The point in my letter was simply to point out that if one person is punished, then won’t everyone need a punishment for their possible mistakes as well? Under the law, it isn’t fair to make one person pay and let others go.

      It’s surprising just how much disrespect there is not only for kids but for humanity in general. The whole point of my post was to show that if human nature is imperfect, why would God demand us to be perfect? I do not think any such creator does demand such a thing, but instead it is our insatiable need for “justice” on others instead of ourselves.

      I’m sorry to anyone who is offended but I think this sickness of devaluing human souls has its root in religion…. as is evidenced by the unwitting or full intent of the lack of love from religious people. I can see right through the people who have berated me for loving my son enough to understand where he’s coming from… They are only reflecting how religion has treated them.

  10. The back door of the school bus IS the emergency exit. Coming from a Buddhist background, I would see his leaving then as his having lessened the chance that the haters he was facing would create any more karma for themselves to have to work through. In that case, he was not operating out of fear, disgust, frustration, or his being emotionally overwhelmed but rather out of sense of humanitarianism for the would-be bullies who unsuccessfully teased him while he avoided their foolishness through a route that was provided to him through operational dharma. That he faces having to walk or be driven is still another matter.
    Regardless of what happens to others, you still have a stronger case if you face the matter head on: What recourse did your son have when being harassed by bullies given that they were in front of him on the bus? Given that the bus driver was not user friendly and the front door was unavailable, since the bus has no emergency alarm for students, and the windows on the bus are too small, the back exit was his only option. Isolating the incident from all others strengthens your case. The smaller an object is, the harder it is to break it. I can break a pencil between my fingers, but it takes atom smasher to pulverize the tip of the pencil. Put all of your weight on one point; it makes a stronger case.
    As for your second point, about self-righteousness. Christ was not readied for the cross until all of humanity was found in unbelief. The righteousness of God was revealed to us all at that moment.
    ________________________
    Paul has this excellent word of wisdom:
    8Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
    9And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
    10That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
    11If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
    12Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
    13Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
    14I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

    If I am going to apprehend what I was apprehended for, if I am going to understand why it was that God bothered to come and redeem me, then it is going to take my not trying to be righteous by following the Law, or by my trying to be good and holy and self-righteous. That would only lead to more of this crap that we all go through in leaning on our own faith in ourselves. The winning is in the losing; I am dead to my own works, and I don’t own the outcome. I take what comes as a matter of course because I am trusting in the faithfulness of God to show his righteousness; my behaviors are an assertion of his grace in action, whether I understand or not, and this is true in every moment and at every level. Even the bullies have their place and play their parts like sheep dogs that herd us into living consciousness. The strength that we feel in our hearts is not the force of a fist or a gun but rather the righteousness of God revealing itself second by second. And in this way your son’s seeming escape turns into an act of kung fu, like Jackie Chan evading would be fools. And after all of that, if you are forced to spend more time with your son on the way to and from school each day next year, what a gift this has all given you, and wouldn’t he be all the more secure in your car? It is all workable if we can see how God works it out. The genius is in our seeing his faithfulness, and in this way we are saved…from self-righteousness.
    runningturtle87

  11. Elizabeth,

    Thank you for your sharing your eloquent words and brilliant intellect with us. Words such as yours do indeed serve an important purpose and you are helping people who are open to it. I have just been set free from church, my wife and daughter too. My daughter is still having issues in that even though she does not want to go and is relieved that we do not attend. She believes that God is going to send her to hell for working out her own faith. That is how deeply that this BS has been implanted. Trust me, we are working on it to let her know how much God really loves her but she is having a hard time with that concept. It breaks our hearts! She is only 16 but has struggled with this for several years already! When we did attend and as time went by, I would leave the service with a heavier burden than when I arrived and sometimes with a burden that I did not have at all!

    Anyway, thank you so much!

  12. PS to my last post…
    About sitting in services week after week…
    I would just leave with a huge nagging feeling that something just was not right and that surely this is not what God meant for us to do (i.e. go through these motions week after week,same format, same sermons etc). I have witnessed pastors yelling condescendingly at their congregations to get out of their comfort zones and to be “sold out” when the pastors themselves were the mayors of their own comfort zones and completely “bought into” a comfortable life where they did not work for a living, but instead placed heavy burdens on their congregations and manipulated them in every way!

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