Monday, August 22, 2011

Angry

by GAO member, True Anathema

I had an interesting conversation with my brother this morning, who advised me to be careful in my new search, take my time, and not to break ties with others because of their beliefs. That made me really sad, because there aren’t that many people in my life to break ties with.

I was thinking about this yesterday too, wondering why that is. This is because I have always held my fellow Christians at arms length because their logic scared me, even though I tried not to admit it to myself. And I haven’t associated with anyone else that’s not a Christian, except to convert them, which doesn’t bode well for forming relationships. “Light shall not have fellowship with darkness.” Give me a break.

I’ve been angry for the past couple of days and trying not to let it get the best of me. It’s just below the surface and bubbles up every once in a while. I jotted some notes down about why I’m so angry and it ended up being a legal page and a half. Here’s some if it.

When I was four years old I heard the voice of God, which sounded like a really big drum, but there were voices in it speaking a beautiful language. That was my supposed baptism in the holy spirit. I don’t know if I remember the incident or the countless times this incident was recounted to me and others. What I know NOW…is that this was probably an auditory hallucination which was religious in nature. Since I was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder a good 9 years ago, this makes perfect sense, because its onset can be detected as early as a few months after birth. Wait, it gets better. I remember seeing three males kneeling at the end of my bed around the age of 11. Their faces were glowing and they were staring at me, but not talking. They did not appear friendly and I knew they were very angry with me. I told my parents because it scared the shit out of me. But, I was informed, these were the figures from the Mount of Transfiguration: Jesus, Moses and some other guy. NOW I know this was a visual hallucination, which can occur in someone with bi-polar disorder when they have a psychotic break and have not recieved treatment.

Still better…..not long after, I was praying on my knees beside my bed and felt a hand on my right shoulder. Again, it was ominous and I instictively knew that it was not friendly. Again, I ran downstairs, a frantic, crying mess, declaring that there was someone in my room and they had touched my shoulder when my back was turned. Not to worry, said mom and dad, I had been visited by the Holy Spirit and he had touched me while I was praying. I never prayed on my knees again….ever. Still can’t sleep with my back to the wall.

Add to this visions and the voice of the Lord as thoughts in my head compelling me what I needed to tell other people. These are symptoms of a classic mental disorder, not really words of knowledge or prophecy. I had a LOT of trouble sleeping, smelled things like bleach, dirty diapers and some kind of spice like cinnamon a lot. There were extreme moodswings, excessive laughter and sadness, excessive talking, compulsive lying, and obsessive compulsive behaviors that are too numerous to name on this post. Add to that the constant and extreme feelings of guilt, headaches, bodyaches, stomachaches, voices that would sometimes whisper to me when all was quiet, always in the background, agitated and angry. I could never really understand what they were saying, but they were not friendly and they scared me.

But, I was told, this was all the Lord speaking and the enemy fighting to gain control of my thoughts. The lying, depression and guilt were because I’m a sinner. The stomache aches were an ulcer, but is it any wonder?

I have come to understand all this for what it is after years of medication and therapy. I don’t blame my parents for their interpretation of many of these symptoms as evidence of the supernatural in my life. Bi-polar disorder and depression weren’t understood when I was a child as it is now, and it was hardly ever diagnosed unless someone presented with extreme symptoms and was a danger to themselves or others. However, there are times I want to walk into my past and say to that little girl that God doesn’t scare people like that. That the mess she is is not her fault and someday she’ll realize that. I would have told her not to spend the next thirty some years of her life struggling with guilt and shame, and trying to be conduit for an angry god.

There is so much more, which I will surely write later, but these are those things which have been on my mind the most. I feel like someone who has woken up from a coma and is having to relearn how to think, talk, act and interact all over again. Three cheers for waking up. Hip, Hip, Hoorah.

Afterthought: maybe deprogrammed would be a better way to describe it.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ambassadors of Christ

by GAO member True Anathema


II Corinthians 5:20 “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us…”

Ambassadors for Christ…that’s what Christians are, or so I was taught. How many people are living their life as a representation of someone whom they don’t know, whom they can never truly know? How can one know Christ, or if he ever really truly existed? There are as many different representations of him as there are religions, denominations in those religions, and individuals and factions of those. It’s countless. Even within a denomination of a particular religion, you’ll get as many pictures or descriptions of who people think he is as there are people.

In the “Left Behind” series, he is a heartless, violent, angry avenger, damning those left on earth who dared not accept the witness of the pure in him. If you watch TBN or other “Christian” networks, he really just wants your money, because the people that are his witnesses deserve golden toilet seats and podiums and custom-made embroidered clothing while the elderly and poor give their last pennies to sow a seed in hopes of a financial deliverance. Other churches preach hate against homosexuals and liberals while others spend their time doing missions. But even those missions have a purpose, a hidden agenda, right? They are representing Christ. Sure there are some that have a burden for mankind and want to alleviate suffering, but others are only doing it because they hope others will see their good works and glorify God who is in heaven. They are looking for a reward; however righteous they think their reward is…so their alms are in reality, selfish. It’s like one big cosmic, imagined board game.

I’ve lived my whole life trying to represent someone else and I’ve been lost. That’s what it’s supposed to be about though isn’t it? “He that loses his life shall find it” and all that. Well, I took my life back and I’m not lost. Quite the opposite. I’m finding myself. I have a mind and a heart that function quite well on their own, even better now actually. I’m not trying to gain the whole world, but even if I did, I believe my soul is still mine…it won’t be lost.

Still, I feel as if I’ve broken up with my high school sweetheart. I guess that’s how I feel. I wasn’t allowed to date as I could only date someone who raised their hands in service, spoke in tongues, and could lay hands on people and heal them. There weren’t any young men like that in my high school. How about yours?

I’m on the outside now. I knew the truth, held the secret deep down in my heart and reveled on Sunday morning that I was part of a community that knew what I knew. Now there are more questions than answers and the people who have known me for some time don’t know what to do with my questions, so they avoid me. No calls, no e-mails, no Facebook chats. Conversations have become awkward and pointless. I find myself giving one word answers to questions and not throwing the ball back during conversation, because I’m afraid I’ll tell them they’re stupid, or they’ll tell me I’m damned.

But I’m not damned. That’s the point. From now on I’m going to represent myself. No more plastic smiles and Stepford Christian for me. Just me. Me. Me.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Conversion

by Greensboro Atheist Org member, True Anathema

Since I “lost my faith,” I have been experiencing a profound sense of freedom and peace and it seems strange to me that it is almost as if I have experienced a religious conversion. I have heard others talk about their “salvation,” with the exact date and hour it happened. I don’t have that, and since I was “saved” at the tender age of four, I really only remember what my parents have told me about it. I would envy other Christians so much, with that distinctive before and after to their lives. Before sin and after sin. Now I don’t have to envy them so much anymore because I now have my own before and after. Here’s the snapshot.

Before unbelief there was condemnation, worry, self loathing, anxiety, fear, and disappointment with myself and others. As much as I wanted to measure up to Christ’s exortation to “be ye perfect as I am perfect,” even if I took that word perfect to mean mature and growing, as theologians often teach, I still fell short, and so did everyone else in my life.

Now I don’t look upon my actions or the actions or shortcomings of those in my life as sin. They are just actions. They don’t define who they are and they certainly don’t define their eternal path or worth. There’s no judgement. There’s just the way things are.

The scriptures I used to read and gain comfort from have been turned upside down and now they read more like a fairy tale. I am looking at everything through new lenses and I am astonished at how easy it was to just let it all go.As I wrote in a previous post, this hasn’t happened overnight, but the effect, when it did happen, seemed almost instantaneous.

I still have these voices in my head: scriptures, sermon snippets, and this Christian language that still comes out of my mouth every now and then. I am finding that a lot of things I believed and said weren’t my own thoughts at all. They were thoughts and writings of others, and I had subsituted them for my own.

Since I have realized this, a flood of thoughts and ideas has smashed down the borders of my mind, my abilitites, and my expectency for the future. It’s wide open. No more green pastures for me with fences and a benevolant shepherd to protect me from myself. There’s so much acreage out here in this big beautiful wide world and I’m having so much fun trying to figure out where to go first!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ghana Hates Gays

In an era where the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community has gained a large amount of rights after fighting for equality over the past 40 years, it's shocking to hear that the government in Ghana wants to "round up" gays & lesbians for trial. That's right, they want to arrest all of the gay people in Ghana & put them on trial for "unnatural carnal knowledge."

If you guessed that this was religious-based fear & hypocrisy, you are correct! The Ghanan religious community describes homosexual behavior as a "detestable & abominable act" that will "bring the wrath of God upon the nation." They feel that if homosexuality is allowed in their country their deity will take out his anger on them & leave them even more poverty stricken that they currently are.

Over 28% of the population in Ghana lives in poverty & the life expectency is approximately 56 years old. HIV is prevalent in Ghana, as it is prevalent in most of Africa, & is toted as being made worse by homosexual behavior.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Greensboro Atheists Adopt-A-Highway meetup

On Saturday, June 18, 2011, 7 members of the Greensboro Atheists Organization worked tireless to clean up a portion of the 1.8 mile section of Yanceyville Road in northern Greensboro! It was hot, humid weather, but the day was clear. Several of our findings included: a dead squirrel, a dead snake, & loads of cigarette butts. By the end of the cleanup, we were hot & thirsty. Luckily, one of our members brought a cooler full of ice & bottled water! It was a great day to end a satisfying day.

The Adopt-A-Highway cleanup is a quarterly effort to keep our city beautiful. It's just one more way that atheists and non-believers can help the community & assure those who fear us that we are good citizens who are good without God.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Triad Pride Festival 2011


by Justin Hendershot
GAO Secretary

On Saturday, June 4, 2011, the Triad Coalition of Reason provided the GAO and FACT (Forsyth Area Critical Thinkers) with a booth at the Triad Pride festival. Many people came by the booth to tell us that they were glad we were there. Jim (FACT organizer) went up on stage to speak and told everyone what we represent and that we were there to support the LGBT community. We received some donations and had a decent number of people sign up to join the group. I was there all day and had a really good time. "No H8" was there and provided the entertainment. I wasn't too crazy about the religious connotations of some of the songs, but other than that, they provided a really good show. They performed some of the musical, "Rent," on stage, which was pretty cool.

I believe that it's very important that we as atheists show support for the LGBT community. We must show that we, unlike most religious groups, are not only tolerant, but supportive of the lifestyle choices of our fellow human beings.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Triad Pride Update

Stay tuned for a post re: the most recent Triad Pride event! We had a booth & really had a great time!