Friday, May 24, 2013

I wish I had a book for young people

There are a certain few things I think that help young people get roped into Religion.

I wish I had the time to get my thoughts out clearly so I could send a out a message to young people considering embracing religion.

1.  Jesus died for your sins/ You need Him for forgiveness.
              This is one of the most disturbing manipulative approaches I see now, looking back.  How much sin can one young person really have?  And let's just say they have plenty. Perhaps they are in fact really bad people.   What good does the death of one person do for another?  Besides convince them that they are indebted to this person?  Maybe then they feel guilty for not loving that person and giving them their everything?
              I think it is more because sometimes we feel so lost.  The world is so big and we are so small.  How can we be lovable?  What can make us stand out? Why am I important?  And if there is someone who has done something wrong, perhaps thinking that a God loves them and made them can allow them to choose goodness even when it comes unnatural or they don't feel good enough.
              I know this was the case for me. I didn't feel lovable.  I didn't feel important.  But, because I became convinced that Jesus loves me and has a special purpose for my life, I could believe in myself as well.
              I wish I could have just figured out at that point that I cold love me and believe in me, regardless of if others did or not.  Too bad we have the need for the approval of others hardwired into our genetic code.

2.  Just because others believe in something does not make it real.
              I became convinced as a teenager that there must be a God because everyone I knew thought there was.  There were churches everywhere. I learned of Buddists, Hindus, Muslims, Catholic, Protestants.  I figured...  well, I guess something must be real.  I went in search of what made the most sense to me.  Catholicism came knocking with it history and tradition and Apostolic Succession. I bought it.    I didn't realize that numbers of people believing something doesn't necessarily make it true.
For something to be true it takes evidence.  There has to be REASONS for belief, besides just wanting it to be so.  

3. Believing something, and loving someone does not give proof that that person is real.
              Example: Luke Skywalker, boy bands, Jesus, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny.   Most of us have loved ideas of these things.  We've probably even gotten pretty emotional over these "people" but that in no way makes there a real relationship or even a real person.

4. Good and Bad decisions, verses holiness and evil
               One thing that I know is very convincing of a God or at least a need for a God is morality and the goodness of people.  A lot of times people see believing in God as choosing to live a good life and not believing in God as deciding anything goes and that there is no moral compass.   It is true that for me, belief in God gave me direction in regards to living out morality, but now I see that I could have gotten this without the religious aspect.  My problem was that I just did not have enough people guiding my moral choices or giving me good advice.  So, I made bad decisions.  I felt hurt by those decisions.  When I found God, I started making good decisions and was often made happier by those good decisions.  But, couldn't I have made good decisions without the supernatural aspect? Yes.  We can.  In fact, I now see that following religious beliefs too much can lead to a very unhappy life and very bad choices at times.   The point is that we need to seek good choices and moral decisions, not a fairy tale.

Perhaps I will continue more another day...
This is the start of some points for a future book, or at least letter to young people.


fRED said...

One thing at a time: Jesus died for your (my) sins/ We need him for forgiveness.

This idea has stumped me for a long time. If Jesus truly died in order to save you and me (i.e., each one of us), that would be good news, fantastic news. But that was apparently not the deal. Apparently, it only counts if we believe in him and then repent and lead holy, sinless lives. And if we slip up and happen to die after committing a mortal sin, we are doomed to eternal suffering despite what Jesus did (for us). And despite all that Jesus supposedly did for us, most of us are reportedly destined for hell anyway (due to our sins - which Jesus supposedly died for). Circular logic?

I agree that the statement about Jesus is largely designed to load up the guilt and manipulate us.

And then there is the love issue. It's all you need (says Lennon). And it is. But where is it and why is it so hard to find?

If God supposedly loves us so much, why is there a hell? As a parent, I cannot imagine sentencing my child to eternal suffering and torment.

Unfortunately, the reality is is that we DO need the love and approval of others. Yes, in the end I can only rely on myself but it makes a HUGE difference to be part of a supportive and nurturing group of people.

If only our spouse, family, friends, church could give us such support. Unfortunately, today's society is very focused on exploiting the differences between us.

A careful reading of the Bible reveals encouragement of the awe of the Divine and the role of human beings in the divine plan. This is very abstract and largely overlooked by most churches and religions. The NT letters contain large amount of text regarding good wholesome living, and building each other up. However, one can see traces of institutional power seeping in to control and manipulate.

When I was enduring my divorce, I was encouraged immensely by Veggie Tales and its message (at that time) of "God made you special and he loves you very much." Not only do we need to hear that, we need to see it lived.

Rob Bland said...

Hi Ashley, It's Rob. Not all of existence can be reduced to the quantitative. There is an element of the human experience that is qualitative as well. I love God and I'm compelled (not obligated)to express it. I've yet to scratch the surface but it gives me such immense joy (despite of life's difficulties).Let's keep searching!

fRED said...

I thought of your situation today when I came across a blog by a Lutheran minister who apparently left his congregation when he realized that Jesus was not a historical, literal person (I am simplifying). You may find it interesting to check out this entry: as well as the other Dec 2012 entry and some of the other recent entries. I think you will find concepts that you can relate to (but the answers are harder).

Paul Tillich is mentioned. Wonder if you ever studied him.

AJL said...

Thanks rob! I appreciate your comments, really! I know where you are I have been there for a long time! I know how crazy it may seem that I am expressing this now. All I can hope is that maybe some of the people who know me would try to consider what I am saying logically. I hope all is well.

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fRED said...

Have you seen the (2009/10) Ricky Gervais movie, "The Invention of Lying"?

It is sort of an atheist romantic comedy. I really enjoyed it. Borrowed the DVD from the public library. Has an ironic aspect because big part of the story involves Ricky's character inventing "God" (but, Ricky Gervais is an atheist in real life).

fRED said...

Addendum to my comment above about the movie, "The Invention of Lying."

The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is O -- morally offensive. The film contains pervasive blasphemy, some sexual humor and references, and a few rough and crude terms. The USCCB can be found at:

C said...

Hey A, I ran across your blog today, it's really interesting and wonderfully honest. I actually also graduated from Franciscan (1999-2003) so I can see where you are coming from and the betrayal and disillusionment with "false prophets" so to speak. (I have a few very close friends that were tramatized by Regnum Christi)

I also am married and expecting my 5th baby and have gone through some dark moments of the soul and searching (particularly with the BC / NFP stuff.), disgusted with the whoring out to the repulican party that I see in my peers, etc. Ultimately I have come to different conclusions in my own search but I can appreciate your willingness to ask difficult questions. I hope and pray that you are getting possitive, non-judgmental support by those around you that love you....,. I won't insult you by praying "for your conversion" ;-)

If you ever want to email off blog I would love to. I'm busy with my little ones and I am fairly sure I'll have no "pearls of wisdom" for you and definitely no answers to your big life questions, but I could be a sympathetic sounding board with some similar experiences.


fRED said...


I hope you are alright. Its been a long while since you posted or replied. I hope that you have not given up. I hope that your family is still intact (Did #6 arrive?).