Sunday, April 05, 2015

Thoughts on This Easter Sunday 2015


Happy Easter folks, for those of you who celebrate this most Christian of holidays.

I used to be a Christian (raised as Southern Baptist) but these days I guess you could call me a secularist or a spiritualist.  I'm definitely not a Southern Baptist with their discriminatory views of born homosexuals like me.  

Funny thing, when I was young I used to like going to church.  I even have a perfect attendance certificate for summer bible school when I was eight years old. I always felt a sense of comfort and inclusion when I went to church.  That feeling of inclusion ended when my Aunt Peg (whom I liked very much) took me to one of her Pentecostal church meetings. I will never forget that Sunday.  I was about ten years old.  I remember the preacher, red in the face and actually foaming at the mouth; screaming:


YOU'RE ALL SINNERS!

YOU WERE BORN IN SIN!

YOU WILL DIE IN SIN!

Oh yes, I was in shock.  The first thought that came to my ten year old mind was "I didn't choose to be born so what am I guilty of?" 


Pentecostal preaching - screaming and red in the face and foam around the mouth

And if I'm going to be a sinner my whole life and die in sin then what is the purpose of my life?

That was the turning point in my life with organized religion folks.  Not that there aren't good people who are in organized religion.  I remember Rev. Pennington of a church me and my Mom used to attend in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.  He was a nice and gentle man with a sweet wife.  He always had a pleasant and non threatening sermon that helped me learn about dealing with life. And after the sermon he would stand by the door of the church, which his wife beside him (she always wore a crystal necklace that my Mother admired) and sincerely greet and listen (actually listen) to each parishioner as they left. Sad to say, he retired and I haven't experienced a reverend since who was as sincere, caring or uplifting as Reverend Pennington. 


The Pagans want their holidays back!

These days what I see of organized Christianity is on the news of evangelical Christians who condemn be as "less than" because I am a gay man.  They say "You are against God's will."  They judge me as unworthy until or unless I change into what they are, straight and subservient to their mythical God who is so quick to anger. 

So when these Christian holidays like Easter roll around what I see is a thin veneer of copying ancient pagan holidays.  Easter to me is a time or rebirth. Springtime the green returns to replace the gray monochrome of winter. All this "Jesus died for your sins" mantra, it never did make sense to me.  

To me Christianity and that other major religion, Muslim is based on fear.  "You do this or else God is going to be mad and punish you." Those threats may have worked in the medieval times and even these days in the Muslim world of the Middle East to keep the Great Unwashed in check while their rulers continue to control their lives with promises of a better afterlife. Just doesn't make sense. To me, if this religion thing is true, then Jesus (or whoever) will welcome me into Heaven because I am a good person, which I am. I know it even if the so-called "good Christians" do not.  




Oh sure, I know many find comfort in religion.  That's all fine and well if you're straight and fit in with your own tribe.  And tribal fidelity is, after all, what religion is all about anyway isn't it folks?

I know what I believe in, good people.  I don't ask what their religion is or even if they practice it.  I don't condemn or judge those who practice religion or who do not practice religion. I judge people by how they treat other people. Not how organized religion tells them they should behave or how I should behave.

Well, I'm starting to ramble on.  This is what I am fairly certain of.  For many of those who pound their chests about how they are so much better than the rest of us because they BELIEVE . . . . all you have to do is look at someone like Ted Cruz and think "He's going to Heaven?"  


The Texas senator by way of Canada - the antithesis of a Christian - judgmental, condemning, non-inclusive and dishonest - a truly evil man

Just take a look at some of these religious folks and think "Do they practice true Christianity?" You know, the one that has the Golden Rule:




So folks, whatever your beliefs this Easter Sunday (and I make no judgements here folks, if you're a regular church goer I do not condemn, I'm happy that you're happy that you find comfort in your faith), my best wishes to you. And don't forget, many stores have half off Easter candy tomorrow.



17 comments:

  1. Ron, it's strange that nothing turns religious people off religion than that religion itself - when we/they wake up!
    In your case it was the preacher (who seemed to have been on the verge of a heart attack). In my case it was reading the Bible regularly, which I still do every day, (as well as the Koran) - and my King James version copy is now so littered with scribbled notes of disbelief and questions in the margin I can hardly decipher my own writing, they are so numerous. Also things like "Eh?", "Really?" - and (very frequently) "WHAT?!? But, they'd say that my 'fault' is that I'm thinking for myself - as also you did and do. Well; tough titty to them. I've got a brain and no one can stop me using it.
    Since I was a youngster my own morality has been based on thinking "How would I feel if this was done to ME?" - which is also what religion teaches (or should) but I extend it further to cover the animal world. It's always been an automatic response with me and I've never ever needed a God (or representative) to tell me what I ought to be thinking. A simple philosophy which doesn't need a god, and certainly no stick and carrot approach, the stick being the threat of a 'Hell' and the other being a promise of an 'Eternal Paradise'. Just don't need 'em!

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    1. Ray,
      I never got the threat (fear of God) part of organized religion. Again, let me stress that for those who find organized religion a comfort to them, I do not condemn. But for me, I see so many inconsistencies in organized religion, no matter what faith. All the killing and hate and discrimination and fulminations in the name of religion. It just drives me away. But I do know individual people who are good people who believe in their religion. As long as they don't put their beliefs on me, try to sway me to what I know in my heart just doesn't make sense, I'm all right with them.
      No one has ever come back after they died, not even Jesus Christ, even though he supposedly was "risen" from the tomb on Easter Sunday. Where did he go? What was his history after he was risen? This just another one of those "mysteries?" To me, if you live your life treating others as you wish to be treated, that's all you need. None of this "praising the Lord" and bowing and scraping. What's that do? Again, medieval teaching the "lords" of the castle to the serfs and the promise of "Heaven" in the afterlife if the peasants accepts their miserable existence now. All so clear to me.
      Ron

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    2. Ron, re the equal marriage issue in Ind & Ark - and anywhere else for that matter - I shouldn't at all be surprised if some of these 'poor, persecuted' Christian Crazies demanding their right to discriminate, liken themselves to the victims of those horrific massacres in Kenya and Somalia. I don't think we'll have to wait too long - or perhaps someone's already said it.

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  2. Ron, I'm glad to see that you were able to venture outside on this beautiful Easter day. It was freezing here last night in the TN mountains, but it warmed up nicely today. I can fully understand your frustration and bitterness concerning religion. Most religions have done their best to twist, vilify, and misinterpret the original concept.........(I won't bother to expound)...and it is truly a turn-off. You're right on target with the "pagan holiday" concept.

    Couldn't help noticing Hedy Lamarr on your sidebar. She was gorgeous and I'm a fan! My Mother met her once, when she (Lamarr) was campaigning for a president in New Jersey. I forget what president it was - - possibly Eisenhower?? Anyway my Mom said that Hedy was as strikingly beautiful in person as she was on film.

    Hey, that Easter candy looks good!!!

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    1. Jon,
      One of my biggest frustrations with this injury and recovery is being housebound. I love spring weather like today and to be inside, cut off from it, is maddening.
      Religion has let me down terribly. The older I get the more it doesn't make sense.
      Ah, Hedy Lamarr. Her beauty has always stunned me and made me feel good. Not in a sexual way but in a more other worldly way. What a surprise it was to me that many years later I found out we shared the same birthday, November 9th.
      Ron

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    2. I had no idea that you and Hedy Lamarr shared the same birthday. That's cool!
      I share my birthday (December 13) with Mary Todd Lincoln. That's weird.

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    3. Jon,
      Much to my surprise too! I have to admit, I knew there was always some kind of "connection" between us.
      Ron

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  3. I am not against made up beliefs, unless they condemn me, and most religions do. But they lose not me. Unlike you, I don't see that religions gives people comfort, unless it is fleeting. Most of the time they are scared to death that they will fuck it up, or concerned that they wish they could. I see it in my catholic and mormon relatives. They have to surround themselves with others who think like them so that they don't jump ship. MY comfort, as an atheist, is real because it knows that around the corner I could be hit by a falling piano. I don't pretend that I am protected by anything or anyone other than my own awareness and caution. Works for me!

    Religion is nuts, but I get it. But once they fuck with my life, all bets are over. At least nobody has ever been killed or shamed in the name of Santa Claus--now THAT is a wacky belief I can align with!

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    1. Tony,
      I do not disagree with you, I too am not against made up beliefs, unless they condemn me. If someone wants to believe in the Easter Bunny, fine. Just don't try to shove the Easter Bunny down my throat with threats of eternal damnation in hell, which, unfortunately, most religions tend to do.
      At one time I thought I was an atheist but like religion, I can't say I am 100% certain either way. But I really don't think there is a harp and a white gown trimmed in gold waiting for me in the clouds when I depart this earth. That's all made up stuff by those who seek to control us over the ages. Made up. But, out of respect for my friends and people I like, who do believe in their religion, I am reluctant to dismiss their faith and beliefs out of hand. It's just not for me. Doesn't make sense.
      Ron

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  4. Ron,
    I think we share many of the same views as you do about organized religion in general. I, too, was born, bred and baptized as a Southern Baptist. But as I grew older (and moved to another SB church when we moved to SC), I never experienced the condemnation and hatred that they seem so fond of - in fact, a SB church camp gave me the words to put with my burgeoning sexual feelings - totally without judgement or condemnation. Just "some people are this way, some people are that way". A gay friend of mine continued to play organ in that church until his death a few years ago. The church I attended (and still occasionally attend when in WV) was an American Baptist, certainly somewhat more liberal than the SBs, but also 100% accepting. We had "known" gay youth in our group and choir, and no one refused to be "bunk buddies" when we toured and stayed in people's homes (where many times the accommodations for 2 boys was a double bed), or in hotels.

    It pains me to acknowledge that what you say is so certainly true. It's like many of the churches out there have decided to abandon all the teachings of their God and His Son, and preach hatred and bigotry instead of love and hope and acceptance! What has happened to us as a society that some of us support that mindset?

    Quite frankly, whether there is a God or not is less important to me than what the religious preach to us. If you take comfort, receive love and hope and acceptance from your church, fine. But for pete's sake, stop it with the foaming at the mouth and spittle-flecked invectives!!! Can it, in other words!

    Hope you had, in any case, a peaceful day!

    Peace <3
    Jay

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    1. Jay,
      You were lucky in the way your church treated you. My youngest brother is a pastor of a Southern Baptist Church in Greenville, SC. While he has never spoken to me directly about my sexual orientation (gayness), he knows. We've always been on good terms until I got officially married a couple of years ago. I think the resulting publicity embarrassed him and his family because I haven't had any contact with him since then except for a note he sent me on the death of a dear friend of mine. I'm afraid I went outside the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" guidelines for family matters thus I'm an outcast now. That's there decision and their loss.

      I agree with you that if you take comfort from your church, whatever denomination, I am happy for you. But I was scared forever with the hateful condemnation that I received and continue to receive from the evangelicals todays, including my own cousins from Pigeon Roost, North Carolina, who have banned me from visiting them because I "practice the gay lifestyle." So much for that brand of Christianity. What I find amazing is that so many of these churches don't "get" the meaning of trust Christianity, they only see the world through their own bubble of exclusiveness and judgmental attitudes. The old fire and brimstone Christianity which I totally reject. I was taught that Christianity was love and acceptance, not hatred and discrimination and invective. I'm sick of it and don't with it.
      Ron

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  5. Hey Ron - great blog and comments by all. I do my best to live by the golden rule. I hope in the end that's what will prevail for all cultures.

    Pat

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    1. Pat,
      Unfortunately there will always be those in this world who seek to control others. Those people that want to impose their way of life on others. Intolerant people. And so may use religion as an excuse. That's what turns me off to organized religion.
      Ron

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  6. Welcome to Spring!

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    1. David,
      I am so ready for spring!
      Ron

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  7. Mr. Twain said it best: "Heaven for climate; Hell for society."

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