What Did I Actually Get From Being A Christian?

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I have another RFR meeting tonight, and I’m still unsure how helpful it will be. Mostly I think it’s because the group isn’t fully able to deal with the issues I have. There’s also some reluctance to discuss very heavy subjects like depression with people I don’t know all that well, and who have differing feelings on faith.

Like most of the time after leaving Christianity, I’m still trying to wrap my mind around what happened while I believed in Jesus and other invisible things. Right now I’m in a phase where I’m thinking about how life was cheapened by what I was taught in church. That is, life as we know it isn’t permanent; everything is a grand test for something else later; death is just a transition from one mode of existence to another.

It’s hard for me to talk about all of this in specifics, because there’s no one memory that puts my experience into adequate perspective. What I can say is that I endured a process of believing very much that I was a divine pawn at the mercy of a very powerful thing called a deity. Around the same time, I started dealing with personal failure and frustrations in a very unhealthy way, encouraged in part by trying to make it fit some religion-shaped mold. Eventually I started believing that my life was not worth very much, that I’m not worthy of anything nice, and that I’m just waiting to go to a second and permanent phase of existence.

Precisely because I didn’t think my own death was a big deal, I am still a person who actively considers taking his own life. I have to fight hard to remember why that’s not a good thing, or why I shouldn’t do it. On a permanent basis, I don’t think of things in long terms at all because I’m not optimistic I’ll be around for it. I’ve mostly given up on trying to believe in my worth as a person. Instead, I have to deal with concrete ideas of things people need me for and things I’ve helped people with.

What I keep coming back to is the idea that although the Christian religion didn’t cause me to think poorly of myself, it did help that part of me flourish. Hating myself was explained as being parts sinful and parts of a soul hearing the judgment of a deity. Suicide was either a mercy for a person finally at rest or a definite ticket to hell. Sometimes it was a tool generously provided by a stern deity to remind others of their obligations to each other.

I also can’t think of anything positive my old faith has done for me. Every feeling of euphoria or belonging or goodness was part of an artificial show every week. Outside of the pageantry or the people I met who decided to be nice, there wasn’t anything actually getting taught that I could rely on for help. Any possible glimpse of the divine could get chalked up to suggestion or delusion, and it was only the efforts of others that stopped me from thinking about it clearly.

Sometimes I still get frustrated when I think about this. I wonder what kind of a person I’d be if I never believed in angels or hell or talking fire-bushes. Would I be arguing in front of the US Supreme Court right now? Would I be helping people navigate critical moments in their lives? Would I be able to stop thinking that I’m on borrowed time, and that it needs to stop at any moment?

I wish I had the answers to those questions and more.

4 thoughts on “What Did I Actually Get From Being A Christian?

  1. “I’ve mostly given up on trying to believe in my worth as a person. Instead, I have to deal with concrete ideas of things people need me for and things I’ve helped people with.”

    Suggest not to dwell on first sentence and govern yourself by second sentence and it will fit just nicely in the scheme of things. None of us are worthy according to Calvin but by embracing the Holy Spirit we receive justification, sanctification and worthiness as God’s children. Believing in angels or hell or talking fire bushes is not the essence of Christianity in my opinion. Living a charitable life and learning “to be last and the servant of all” makes one fairly worthy in my estimation. The faith is not about worthiness ultimately. It is about selflessness without erasing one’s self. You will drive yourself crazy thinking about such as you do. Just be a decent person and avail yourself of little enjoyments now and then and liberate yourself from thinking it out all the time. You’ll never find a satisfactory answer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t help but agree with Carl. I’m fortunate that my faith tradition doesn’t require justification by faith. All people have equal intrinsic value. We have a responsibility to be part of the human enterprise to make this world a better place in what ever small way we can. Even your blog has provided help and inspiration to others, so regardless of what good you do outside the blogosphere, there are many who appreciate your contribution to humanity. Hang in there SB

      Liked by 2 people

  2. You could start by realizing what a coercive idea an afterlife is, then get hopping mad about how you were conned. Religions that do not coerce the labor of the masses to serve the interests of the secular and religious elites do not last long. Christianity had to endorse slavery if it was to get adopted as “a” and then “the” state religion of Rome. Imagine what Christianity would be like today without its Roman sponsorship (and restructuring along Roman authoritative lines to suit its new sponsor).

    So the Afterlife Con works this way: you notice that your hard work is making other people rich and powerful. Christianity says “Do not make a fuss. All of your suffering will be rewarded … and your enemies will be punished when you die.” Christianity has an all-powerful god at its helm, why must you be dead to get your reward? The reason is once you are safely dead, you no longer have an opportunity to exact revenge on the people perpetrating the con. What they are actually offering is the *promise *(and *threat*) of an afterlife and you must ask yourself “How trustworthy are these people? Are they capable of delivering their promise?” There is absolutely no evidence that they can.

    Be passive, don’t complain, do your job, show up on time, don’t ask for a raise … you will be rewarded later. Who would take such a job?

    At least when the mob offers your business protection, there is a reasonable expectation that if you don’t pay for it you can expect to need it. In this case, the Mafia is more trustworthy than the Vatican.

    On Tue, Aug 7, 2018 at 4:01 PM, Amusing Nonsense wrote:

    > Sirius Bizinus posted: ” I have another RFR meeting tonight, and I’m still > unsure how helpful it will be. Mostly I think it’s because the group isn’t > fully able to deal with the issues I have. There’s also some reluctance to > discuss very heavy subjects like depression with ” >

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have never been a member of any religion. So, when you say: ” I wonder what kind of a person I’d be if I never believed in angels or hell or talking fire-bushes. Would I be arguing in front of the US Supreme Court right now? Would I be helping people navigate critical moments in their lives? Would I be able to stop thinking that I’m on borrowed time, and that it needs to stop at any moment?” I think, that maybe you could have been all of those things, but what if you were? You can not change what has already happened. What you can influence is what is going to happen in the future. At present, it seems to me, you are actually helping people to “navigate critical moments in their lives”. Blog posts may disappear into the vast netspace, but perhaps one day someone facing similar problems as you do, finds one of your posts and learns to appriciate your efforts on it. Perhaps, that has already happened several times… Your posts, help me to think more clearly about these issues, as you provide me an insight to what it used to be like as a religious person and what it is like to come out of it, and how it is possible, even when you are voulnerable in other ways. It would be all too easy for someone like me to fall into the mindset, that religious people are just deluded nincompoops, but as you and some others have taught me, this is not the case. Thank you.

    Anyway, to help others, it is beneficial to put oneself into ever better shape. What I see in your posts is you doing exactly that.

    Would I be a better, or worse person, if I had once been a member of a religious group and believed all the nonsense and superstition exclusive to that group? It is impossible to say, there are too many movers in that equation. Every day I try to be the best possible me, though I recognize I am not a very wonderfull, or especially meaningfull person all the time and trying to be the best, even at being me, is sometimes terribly difficult and tiresome. As I grow older, I find that every now and then, there comes an opportunity for me to help someone else to “navigate critical moments in their lives”, wether I want it, or not. I guess you and I are both people, who – when such an opportunity appears – recognize our responsibility to try and try hard to help. Because we both know, that almost everybody needs help (as in the real world very little help even seems to come from any supernatural source), from time to time, and by helping others we help ourselves. – Regardless wether there are any of the particular supernatural entities, or supernatural rules of any particular religious ideals.

    Liked by 2 people

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