Thursday, 25 May 2017

The Fatal Flaw

There are many reason I grew out of Christianity. Perhaps the most significant one is this.

Christianity claims to have the one truth that is for all humanity for all time. This is based on it's scriptures, core doctrines and theology. It's essential to understanding the work of Christ and to reject it directly challenges the premise that Christ died for all humanity's sins and that the Judeo/Christian god is indeed the one true god of all the universe.

I believed this most of my life and any inklings of doubt were quickly quelled by reminding myself that "who am I to question god's plans", and "his ways are higher than ours" etc.

But ultimately the problem is insurmountable. If this gospel is for every person who ever existed and ever will exist, and is the most important information in the entire universe that determines not only our well-being in the present but also our eternal destiny, then god has failed to achieve this on a scale that is tragic beyond belief.

We are told that it's our responsibility to spread the gospel to all the world.
Can we take seriously the idea that god would put this life and death matter into the hands of the humans he apparently created in the complete foreknowledge that they would fail to do so - and fail on a grand scale!

Did he forget about the billions of people before Jesus? Or did he treat them all with the same disdain he had for those he drowned in the flood?

Did he realise that billions of people in all the countries and nations outside of the middle east throughout all history would never hear this message, let alone understand it's implications?

Did he realise that still, countless billions, through no fault of their own have no idea of this one true god and the way to be saved from our sin and his wrath? Or that billions never will?

"But God's ways are higher than ours!!" Yeah right. I'm not seeing it, despite years of genuine attempts to figure out how this works.

This is the fatal flaw in the whole system. God has failed to deliver the goods. Most of humanity is lost, and possibly in ways that are too horrific to contemplate.

I have not had one single descent response to this - ever. Not even the best theologians I've read have addressed this issue in a rational way. They all end up with "his ways are higher..." etc.

The reality is this - whether we like it or not. Christianity is one particular religion that arose from one particular tribe in one particular region. It had no concept of the world as we now know it. It created a god that fitted their small, primitive world view. It worked for them in that context (although I would even question that). It never was and never will be the one truth that sets all humanity free. But to let go of this delusion is to let go of the basic tenets of the belief system, and that will cause a complete crisis of faith - something that most are terrified to allow.

Monday, 15 May 2017

My Legacy

Many people think that I'm "out and proud", and that my days of living in hidden trauma, depression and self loathing are long gone. 

I guess I do give that impression because I'm a passionate advocate for helping people untangle the mess of religion that causes untold damage to millions (and not just LGBT people). I speak about how amazing life is now that I'm free from the bondage and abuse from that belief system.

But there's a legacy (a very large legacy) that I live with - that most who have been through this sort of stuff live with.

Let me explain...

On one level I've never felt more at peace to be free from religion and dogma. I understand love in ways I never thought possible. Life is infinitely better!

But I lived a nightmare for most of my 60 years. I lived a life of shame and guilt - of being a failure, a "freak", faulty, rejected and deeply tormented for being something I couldn't change, which culminated in a meltdown after my wife died.

It's been a slow journey out of that mess, and the legacy of that life is deep and lingering. I'm on antidepressants and still have bouts of depression and anxiety. I have ADD that became far worse after the meltdown. I can't absorb complex technical information any more (I used to be a technical writer and Instructional Designer). My brain runs full tilt all the time, dancing from one thing to another without a word of warning. I get confused easily. I'm impulsive. I lose track of what I'm doing. It's not just old age, lol, although I'm sure that doesn't help! 

I struggle every day. It took me 2 years to write It's Life Jim... not only because of the time it took to untangle so much of the mess, but also because my mind doesn't operate in linear coherent ways any more (not that it was ever that good at it anyway). Some days I get up with the best of intentions and clarity only to find it turns to vapour the moment I start to be "productive". I practice mindfulness and go for long walks. I take time as best I can, to slow down. I like my wine and beer, and the odd bit of wacky weed to help slow down the endless barrage of chatter in my head.

I struggle with how most of my life was a complete waste, never finding peace or integrity, self worth and living a complete lie, damaging those closest to me, as well as myself. Sure, there's all the platitudes about my life's journey and nothing is a waste etc... I get that, really I do. But that doesn't help the deep scars left by the endless years of crap.

Daily, "normal" life is not something I do well. I'm one of the walking wounded, with a pronounced limp that I'm slowly realising may never go away. And yet, the paradox is I'm happier than I've ever been. A deep happiness and peace - so much better than my previous life.

One thing I can give, without hesitation, is my integrity and honesty about who I am, what I've done and where I'm at. I can only "share my journey" (cliche alert) with as much honesty as I'm capable of mustering, because that is the only thing any of us can do in the end. Sure I "preach" about the things that have set me free, and I'm passionate about everyone growing into real life and love without fear or dogma. But I'm just me, still discovering my own biases, how my paradigm works, how I affect others, how much I really live what I preach.

My favourite tag line is "Live loved". I'm still learning how powerful and profound those simple words are. Some days are better than others, but it's always a step forward.

The legacy of christianity, for me, is deep. I've seen the utter failing of it's core doctrines. I'm not as bitter as I used to be, and have always recognised that many beautiful, loving people have found a belief system that works for them. They are the ones who have shaped their beliefs around their own inherent beauty, rather than the reality of the belief system itself, but that's a whole other story, lol.

So I guess I'm saying that if I (or anyone) give the impression that I'm suddenly free and perfect after a lifetime of abuse, then sorry, it doesn't work like that.

Now, where's that beer?...

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Pedophile priest forgiven by church...

(Update: this is probably a fake news story, but it doesn't change the issues I'm addressing)

This is not uncommon, as we are all too aware!

Pedophile priest with HIV who raped 30 children forgiven by church
Paedophile priest with HIV who raped 30 children forgiven by church...
Any sane Christian will immediately say that this is not God's will, that it's evil and so on - and rightly so.

I'm not commenting about the subject matter itself though. I'm addressing the whole problem with God allowing this horrific stuff to blacken his name.

Countless atrocities over the centuries, big and small, have been committed by the church. They paint the church as a dark place indeed, despite the glimmers of loving genuine people of the faith.

But here's the problem...

We worry about the tainted image of God and proclaim "but we aren't all like that", and of course that's true. But millions of people don't know that! They have never seen the "good" side. They are ignorant of all you who understand that love is the main thing, so they quite genuinely assume that Christianity is a heap of crap.

God does nothing to stop this.


He is silent. Yes, you may say, it's up to us to put the record straight and show people how good this god really is, but that never stops this sort of thing. As desperately as we may try to paint a good picture more crap is smeared over the whole thing.

There are lots of trite answers about why god allows this - answers that try to find some sense, but all fail miserably in the light of simple truth and logic. They all end up with the same lame answer - "because god".

People are bitter, angry, horrified, over the hypocrisy of the church. They are the laughing stock. And god is still silent, and not one Christian has a decent response. It's just, you know, because god!

You don't need a religion to be a loving, moral person. We are ALL capable of being better than this god. And better yet, WE then become responsible members of humanity as we work together to confront this type of evil. We don't have to try and justify it all through complex twisted doctrines and theologies. We no longer have a scapegoat.

WE become responsible for love on this planet.

WE are love.

You can believe in a god of some sort if you like, but if you place doctrines and theology above the love of humanity in any way, you have missed the plot.

It's time for humanity to mature, grow up, out of religion and accept our rightful place and responsibilities.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Happy Easter!

You didn't really expect a traditional Easter greeting from me did you?

Many of you are used to my "attacks" on Christianity, and I often post stuff explaining my reasons, but my "audience" has slowly shifted, friends have come and gone (although I still manage to keep quite a few traditional christians in my friends list).

So why do I keep digging away at the christian faith?
Why can't I just get on with life and leave people to believe whatever they want?

Glad you asked!!

Basically, everyone is free to believe whatever they want. Why shouldn't we? Our personal beliefs are our business. Of course, the one defining condition is how do those beliefs affect others, and how do they really affect us?

There are countless types of religious and spiritual belief systems, Christianity being one of the major players. But even the major ones have endless official and unofficial variations, often at complete loggerheads with each other - to the point of hatred, war and even genocide.

What does this tell us?

People spend their entire lives justifying their beliefs in an effort to claim they have the truth. There are a lot of psychological reasons why this happens, but whatever the reasons, humans love to be right about whatever they believe. We love to feel special and better than others.

All this clearly tells us that there is no "one truth" - no one true religion. No one is "right".

When we have the guts to step back from our beliefs and see how all religions and beliefs are nothing more than subjective opinions we can see them for what they are - the damage they can do - the good they can do - and how irrelevant they are in the end.

I will continue to dismantle traditional Christianity. Not because I have an axe to grind, but because the only way forward for humanity is to grow out of our need for this type of religion, to grow up as it were, into being creatures responsible for each other and our own lives. Religions by their very nature, create division, separate humanity into "us and them".

I'm not attacking people, just challenging what they believe and why, with the hope that we can all move past the need for this type of religion and grow into understanding reality, love and life together.

Happy Easter!!

Thursday, 6 April 2017

The Psychological Legacy

If you've read my book "It's Life Jim..." you'll be familiar with how my mental state was affected by my life of battling sexuality with religion and the constant fight with depression and suicide ideation.

When my wife died it all came to a head and I had a "meltdown" or whatever you want to call it. The symptoms were a relentless combination of heavy depression (like walking around covered in a wet dark blanket, unable to think beyond the pain and confusion that keeps pounding your head), Intense anxiety attacks (that created a physical gnawing in the gut, confusion, a strange disassociation from my environment and a feeling that I was about to burst into tears), and an escalation of ADHD symptoms (lack of focus, restlessness, confusion, thought's racing etc).  The suicide ideation thankfully went!

This lead to counselling and medication and living on the benefit. There was no way I could hold down a job!

Nearly six years later I'm doing pretty good, but there's the legacy that I just have to live with despite my best efforts. All of these symptoms are still around. Yes, I get days where the depression hits (although nothing like it was) and I still get anxiety attacks, and the ADHD symptoms are the bane of my life.

I've learnt the triggers (mostly) and how to handle it all. I can sense better when I might take a nosedive, and I know how to "roll" with it and not be fearful.

But it's still there. This is the legacy of a life ruled by religious control, cognitive dissonance, self loathing and emotional abuse. Will it ever go away? I'd like to think so, but I'm not holding my breath.

It's like this for countless others. We are presumed to be over it and "all better now". Sure, we've moved on and even enjoy life in ways we never dreamed of. My life is fantastic and fulfilling. But the legacy quietly lives on, reminding us daily.

Be gentle with yourself.
Learn your weaknesses and accept them.
Roll with them, don't fight them.
Find the best way through it - socialise or retreat - talk to people or hide in your cave... there's no right or wrong, just whatever enables you to move through it safely.
Get help if needed, any time, don't be a martyr.

Life is good, no matter what the past has done to us. Life is rich and full of wonder and love.
Live it!!

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

The Windowless World of Religion

I see christians (and other religious followers) argueing over doctrines and the fine points of theology...
I see all the countless hours of study into hermeneutics, exegesis, eschatology, etc...
I see the endless debates of literalism, fundamentalism, liberalism, universalism, preterism and all the other isms...
I see the authority structures built around this, the biblical roles and ministries...
The endless stream of books, articles, blogs, opinions, sermons, videos...
Centuries of bloody conflict - physical and psychological - abuse at every level...

The christian religion (as with all others) is a juggernaut that lives and moves under it's own momentum. It has created it's own world, governed by it's own god and it's own special scriptures. It has it's own world view and unique paradigms, all maintaining the relentless motion of this vast behemoth.

But it is, none the less, just one entity. It exists within millennia of other religious paradigms - other beliefs that take on a life of their own.

There are greater forces that unite us more than ANY religion, or spiritual practices. The way forward as a species is to be willing to mature beyond the needs that these beliefs meet - to let go of the insecurity and fear and embrace what is right in front of us. We already know what to do, how to live, how to love. We already ARE enough, and don't need the things that religions offer.

It's time to step out of the windowless dark buildings of religion, no matter how good they seem from the inside.

Love IS, embrace it, live it.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Religion, Spirituality and enlightenment

The never ending need to experience and understand something bigger than ourselves, something beyond our flesh and blood lives is an obsessive human endeavor.

As a result, there are countless disciplines, religious movements, cults, you name it, that have come and gone since man first became self aware.

Each venture into the non-physical world through millennia of questioning and exploring reveals aspects of our makeup and our needs. We see primitive religions creating external deities to provide answers. We see mystical disciplines that look inwards and endless variations and combinations of the two.

The road to "enlightenment" (whether it be with an external deity or internal exploration) is complicated and twisted, winding in and around our incredibly complex nature.

Every form of spiritual endeavor has disciplines, theologies, doctrines and sacrifices that each one embraces to achieve it's goal. But without exception every "road" requires a devotion to it's beliefs and practices, study in it's principles and applications, teachers and disciples, structure and leadership.

What if all of this could be simplified?
In fact what if the utter simplicity of it all has always been staring us in the face?
Perhaps we like the idea of achieving some unique skill that elevates us above the mundane and the ignorant and the "glory" that goes with it (ego perhaps).

But the true value of any spiritual path has to be in its universality - it must be simple, doable, and desirable for every single human without the need for years of intense study and discipline.

I look at christianity and it fails in this regard from the ground up. In fact all religions fail in this regard as they claim exclusive truth, demanding adherence to their doctrines to achieve "enlightenment" or "salvation" etc.

I look at Buddhism and all it's variations, and all the eastern mystical beliefs, and although they are based on more realistic premises than theistic beliefs (such as christianity) they still require years of discipline and devotion to reach their goal.

What if there is a simple universal truth that every human can embrace right now?
What if we can adopt it and simply grow with it ourselves, using what's already in our heart?
What if the only thing required of us to walk this road is honesty and integrity?

What if this thing is nothing more or less than love?

Ponder this and it's implications. Examine your own ideas and assumptions about the nature of "love". Look inside and ask if yourself if you've ever experienced unconditional love. Perhaps even ponder what unconditional love looks like!

More to come....

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Observe. Listen. Communicate.

There's a huge difference between seeing and observing, hearing and listening.

Random pic cos I couldn't find anything related to the topic
In some ways its obvious, when we consider our daily lives - things wizz past our eyes and ears and we simply can't stop to take in and evaluate everything, and we can eventually become numb with sensory overload, affecting our ability to observe and listen to the most basic (and often important) things, and our ability to successfully communicate.

It takes a conscious effort - a shift in our focus - to observe and listen without judging or reacting.

As we move through our day, we begin to look up/out from our inner chatter. I even find the physical exercise of straightening up and making myself look around with the intention of shifting focus makes a difference.

When we bring this into communication, we don't just see and hear someone, we observe and listen to them without judging. This is the essence of communication.

It's all about shifting our focus from the never ending inner rambling of the mind and taking in the bigger reality around us, extending into our focussed interactions. When we communicate with someone we shift from trying to talk to them, to hearing them without judgement.

So much of our communication is reactionary, rather than responsive - meaning that we have only heard and seen things in a way that triggers a reaction in us, rather than listened and observed with empathy and the goal of understanding, leading to a response that empowers, challenges and respects the value of the other.

It takes effort though, and often we are so caught up in our own reactions that we aren't even aware of what we are doing - or not doing. I often get into trouble, especially online, when I don't make the effort. And I see it so often in others, when try as I may to communicate clearly, they are too busy reacting from their inner dialogue and eagerness to judge and justify.

Lets all try to listen. Ask questions, draw out the real issues. Bypass the rhetoric and clich├ęs. Challenge biases and paradigms, but most of all, hear each others hearts.

And here's the BIG one: don't be afraid of being wrong!