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Christianity – The Considerate Atheist
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Christianity

Bill Maher on Seventh-Day Adventism

Here is Bill Maher on Seventh-Day Adventism (my former cult) and Ben Carson.

 

The good book?

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Every night t I tell my son a bedtime story. Usually he wants me to make one up. So for a while I would make up nature stories; about squirrels flying in airplanes, or beavers making friends with a deer family, etc.  After the nature stories, I started telling him stories from my past.  I had a good time telling him about some of the silly, fun, ridiculous, and even dangerous events of my life. After that I moved to some of the standard fairy tales.  Then one night I was having a tough time thinking of a story.  I was tired, my creativity was low, and I felt like I had exhausted every genre of bedtime story.  Then I thought of bible stories. I always liked bible stories growing up. But I was trying to raise my son without religion.  Should I even tell him a bible story? I quickly reasoned that most of the stories in the bible were probably fictitious anyway. Telling him a bible story would be like telling him a fairy tale.  And it would probably be good for him to hear a bible story in that light. Besides, it is inevitable that he will be exposed to religion, and I might as well be the first to expose him to it.

One of my favorite stories in the bible is the story of Joseph, so I settled with that story. I told Taylor about Jacob’s 12 sons, the rainbow coat, Joseph’s dreams, his trip to Egypt, the dreams of Pharaoh, the seven years of plenty, the years of famine, the whole gamut.  Taylor laid there absolutely rivetted by the story.  It really is a pretty nice tale. I then tucked him in to bed and turned out the lights.

The next night Taylor asked me to tell him another story from “that same book.” He wanted another bible story. I racked my brain trying to find another bible story that would be good for him.  I thought of the old testament. I thought of the new testament. And I kept on thinking. Then it came to me:  I literally couldn’t think of another story that I felt was appropriate for a six year old.  What was I supposed to tell him? The story of Lazarus? My son does not believe in magic, and the story is kind of creepy. The story of a bear killing 40 children because they made fun of Elisha? How about the story of God killing Uzzah for steadying the ark? I  found myself at a loss. Finally I told him the story of Jonah, but edited it a bit to make God not look like a total jerk. The next night Taylor wanted another bible story. Finally I just told him that god was something or somebody who was not real, who was in the sky, and who wasn’t very nice. I told him he was like Santa Claus except he wasn’t as nice as Santa. He seemed to understand that. And by the way my son doesn’t believe in Santa Clause either. I told him I didn’t want to tell him any more bible stories because they were all about god being mean to people.  He seamed OK with that. I know he will probably learn more of the bible stories as he gets older, but I want him to wait until he is more mature. Kind of like a parent waits to show their child a PG-13 movie.

I find it sad that children all over this country are introduced to a fictitious character in the sky whose temper kills millions of people in the bible, and whose temper will turn on them with the hottest of flames if they don’t have a relationship with a ghost. This was the world I was raised in. These are the stories that traumatized me, and these are the stories I’m not going tell my son during his formative years.

The next night I told him a story about a gopher family who made friends with a blue jay. He liked it. I liked it.  And it was wholesome. We’re going to keep it that way for a while.

Life after death

When I was sixteen years old my mother let me go to Bend with Kari, David, and Stephanie (pseudonyms). Bend, OR (boasting 35,000 residents in 1997) was a thriving metropolis compared to our zero-stoplight town of La Pine and worth every minute of the 30-mile drive to get there. There wasn’t a lot to do in Bend, but La Pine High School students enjoyed going there just so they weren’t in La Pine anymore. We made plans to see a movie and grab a bite to eat afterward.

It was a bit out of the ordinary that I ended up with them that day in the first place. You see, these high-school students weren’t the kind of kids I usually hung out with. Or maybe I should say that I wasn’t the kind of kid they usually hung out with. I was used to hanging out with other Seventh-Day Adventists or other Home Schoolers or the combination of the two, which is what I was. They were…well… It’s not like anything was wrong with them, they were just…worldly I guess. Sinners maybe? I had heard a rumor that Kari wasn’t a virgin. And Stephanie wore lots of makeup and earrings. Still, they always seemed to be having a lot of fun. And after my initial nervousness I actually found them extremely easy to hang out with. Perhaps it was because I didn’t feel any pressure to be Godly. It just seemed a little easier to be myself.

After the movie the girls sat in front and I rode in the back seat with David. David was a senior. He was soft-spoken, earnest, and always landed a role in the dramas and musicals. His quiet unassuming demeanor made him well liked by just about everybody. We chit chatted about various things until the topic of my religion came up, as it often did in my conversations. After telling him a bit about my beliefs I asked him if he believed in God. “No,” he said. I almost chocked on my bean burrito. “You don’t?!” I asked. He shrugged and repeated that he didn’t really believe that there was a God. He had the conviction (or lack) of someone who didn’t think it would rain tomorrow. Not exactly passionate, just didn’t really think so.

I chewed on this new information as I chewed on my burrito. Was this the first live atheist I had ever met? Should I try to save him? Should I just witness to him and show him Christian Love? I felt crippled in my ability to witness to him because, quite honestly, he seemed to be more at peace in his life than I was. My Christian life tormented me on a daily basis, and he seemed so relaxed with the world. Did I really want to bring the burden of Christ’s cross upon him? If I cared anything about his eternal soul, then of course I would need to tell him. But it still didn’t make any sense. David was one of the nicest kids I knew in the whole school, and he had been very nice to me that day. Slightly troubled, I let go the notion of saving him. For now.

Two weeks later David was killed in a car accident after his car hit some ice on highway 97. The treacherous roads in Central Oregon seemed to take one high school student every winter, and it would always hit the small community really hard. The next day I was finishing my shift at Subway when my co-worker Amanda (also a senior) commented on how she was still in shock. She knew David well. “At least I will get to see him again someday in heaven,” she said. My mind raced. I thought about how I had missed my opportunity to save him. I thought about how he wasn’t going to be in heaven. I thought about how much I had regretted not saying anything to him in the car, and that I should never be afraid of speaking the truth. Not wanting to miss another opportunity I suddenly blurted out, “You know he’s not going to be there.” Amanda looked at me like I had just slapped her grandmother. “What?” She said. “He’s not going to be in heaven. I talked to him a couple weeks ago, and he said he didn’t believe in God.” I don’t remember how she responded, I just remember going home feeling sick. Sick to my stomach. Is this how it felt to witness? Is this how it felt to spread the truth? I hated myself for being silent, and then I hated myself for speaking up.

I am still embarrassed for talking about David that way the day after he was killed. But the fact is that death can be a very scary thing for true believers. Eternal consequences/rewards are at stake.  I didn’t like the fact that one of the best kids in the school was not going to heaven, but I was told I had to accept it.  And if taking a stand for truth made me look like a jerk, then so be it.  I can’t tell you how liberating it feels to be free of such ideas.  I know now that David does indeed live on.  He lives on in the memory of those who were touched by his goodness and generosity.

Brilliant

I love Matt Dillahunty. What a great call…