Category Archives: religion

What If I Told You That Jesus DIDN’T Die For Your Sins?

What If I Told You That Jesus DIDN’T Die For Your Sins?

Yes, yes, I know…this is supposed to be a religion-free zone. But in the United States, the state and religion are also supposed to be separated, and they’re not. So this post is going to be a potpourri of observations I’ve made over the course of my life, and how I ended up an atheist. I mean no disrespect to anyone’s religion, so please bear with me.

The major Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—have their roots in older beliefs that were grounded in blood sacrifice. Consequently, Christianity in particular has had since its very inception its own roots in the belief that a blood sacrifice is required as an atonement for sins (wrongdoings) and as its main tenet.

“Jesus died for your sins” is the very foundation of both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. One worships Christ crucified (hence, the crucifix), and the other worships Christ risen (hence, the empty cross).

Everything else is just window-dressing: Jews don’t recognize Christ as the Messiah, Protestants don’t recognize the pope as the vicar of Christ on earth, and Southern Baptists don’t recognize each other at Hooter’s.

I maintain that the whole concept of blood sacrifice is a holdover from before the Dark Ages and has nothing whatsoever to do with the mission of Christ.

Want proof? If God truly required a blood sacrifice of his own son, why not have him crucified as an infant, to save time? Then there would have been no need for the humiliation and suffering he underwent at the hands of the Romans.

Yes, it was the Romans and not the Jews who were  responsible for the crucifixion. Consider: the Jewish priesthood accused Jesus of blasphemy, the scriptural punishment for which was death by stoning. Crucifixion, on the other hand, was Rome’s punishment for enemies of the state.

Pontius Pilate knew exactly what he was doing when he had Christ crucified as an enemy of the state, which is why he hung the sign “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” As a descendant of David, Jesus could rightfully claim to be the king of the House of Israel; Pilate said to the Jews, “Okay, here’s your king. He’s DEAD. Any questions?”

Later, when Christianity became one of the religions of the Roman Empire, and later still, the official religion, the powers that be realized that they had a real problem in the fact that they themselves had killed their own savior! What do do? Hey, let’s blame it on the Jews! Nobody really likes them, and besides, as the winners, we get to write the history!

Now That We’ve Eliminated the Need For Blood Sacrifice…

Where does that leave us? My theory is that over the past 21 centuries, we’ve lost sight of the true purpose of Christ’s mission, which was not to die for us, but to be an example of how to live.

Why do churches rely so heavily on the morality of the Old Testament, and all but completely ignore Christ’s message (read The Beatitudes) as well as the example he lived?

Christ cleansed the temple of the hawkers and vendors who had made it their home, but many churches today demand 10% of your earnings. He advocated feeding the poor, housing the homeless, and healing the sick. And we’re all witness to what that has become in the United States.

Christ Didn’t Die For Your Sins

For make no mistake: if Christ was truly one with god, then he, too, would have been all-powerful and would have had no problem smiting his enemies.

Rather he lived his life as an example of how everyone should live their lives. And in the end, as the supreme example, he died for his beliefs, showing us that it is better to die for your beliefs than to kill for them.

And that’s a lesson we’ve conveniently forgotten over the past 2000 years.

On Gods, Goddesses, and a Unifying Force

On Gods, Goddesses, and a Unifying Force

“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things” (Bible, 1 Corinthians 13, King James Version).

I was raised in a Christian household. Indeed, my father was a Lutheran minister, an Air Force Chaplain. I grew up accepting whatever I was taught, never questioning anything. It wasn’t until my senior year in high school—1967, to be exact—that I started to have doubts.

‘67 was a strange year.

1967 the continued presence of American troops increased further and a total of 475,000 were serving in Vietnam and the peace rallies were multiplying as the number of protesters against the war increased. The Boxer Muhammad Ali was stripped of his boxing world championship for refusing to be inducted into the US Army. In the middle east Israel also went to war with Syria, Egypt and Jordan in the six day war and when it was over Israel controlled and occupied a lot more territory than before the war. (See more here.)

The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band provided the soundtrack for most of my life in 1967 and 1968. John Lennon’s infamous quote—so often taken out of context—was true: the Beatles really were more popular than Christ. I say “taken out of context” advisedly: Lennon himself later explained that he wasn’t bragging; rather he was making a sad comment on society at that time.

Christianity no longer held the answers to my questions. “Thou shalt not kill” began to be replaced by bumper stickers exhorting us to “Kill A Commie For Christ.” Any questioning of our government’s foreign policy was countered with “America: Love It or Leave It.”

And I couldn’t reconcile the teachings of Christ wit my father’s chosen vocation of ministering to men and women who were dropping bombs on brown-skinned people thousands of miles away to protect us from invasion. (History has now shown that we were the invaders.)

The following fall when I left for college, I left my religion behind.

And yet….

There was still a part of me that wanted to believe. Over the next several decades I experimented with various religions and philosophies until I found The One True Faith®.

I stayed with the Baha’i Faith for almost 40 years. It wasn’t until I started my transition that its ban on same-sex relationships affected me personally, and I began to doubt the validity of yet another Abrahamic religion that wanted to control who I could and could not love.

So I told myself, “Screw it. There’s no religion capable of dealing justly with the way I was created, so to hell with them all. I’m a fucking atheist.”

Ironically, that was the same year my wife gave me a copy of Merlin Stone’s seminal work, When God Was A Woman. 

Here, archaeologically documented, is the story of the religion of the Goddess. Under her, women’s roles were far more prominent than in patriarchal Judeo-Christian cultures. Stone describes this ancient system and, with its disintegration, the decline in women’s status. Index, maps and illustrations. (Goodreads)

I still wasn’t ready to give up my disbelief and embrace goddess-worship. It all still seemed too us. v. them and divisive. I had long ago left behind any concept of an anthropomorphic deity, and I wasn’t about to go back to that ancient system.

And yet….

Quarks. Quasars. The Strong Nuclear Force. Gravity. Electromagnetism. Dark Matter. There seems to be something, some common thread, running through all creation and holding it all together.  And for lack of a common definition, various peoples at various times have put names to it, in order to be able to talk about it.

Some of those names are God, Allah (which translated from the Arabic means “God), Cosmic consciousness, The Force, or any one of thousands of other names of gods and  goddesses that have been used down through history. Even in the Mel Brooks/Carl Reiner comedy sketch, The 1,000 Year-Old Man, there was a strong, irresistible force. “We called him Phil.”

And while I reject any anthropomorphic object of veneration, I do believe that whatever we call whatever it is that binds us all together and keeps our atoms from flying apart, that force—creative in nature—is most likely feminine rather than masculine.

And so I worship no one. I adhere to my own private creed, and do not embrace any formal belief system. When I let go of religion, I let go of guilt, of trying (and failing) to measure up to any standards.

I sleep better at night.

 

Robyn Jane

Matthew 25:40

Matthew 25:40

The latest battle in the war being waged against gays, lesbians, trans folk and other gender-variant people is being fought in the name of Jesus. The fact that so many states in the Bible Belt are passing laws which make it legal to discriminate and practice other forms of hatred in the name of religious expression made me think that the good Christians living in these states will be the first to line up to kill Christ again if he ever does return.

But the more I thought about it, the more I began to understand that they are already killing him.

Consider the following exchange between Jesus and his disciples:

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
“Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” –Matthew 25:31-46, NKJV

I suppose if there were one single thing that has turned me off to religion it is the yawning chasm between what their scriptures say and the behavior of their adherents. I don’t think they realize just how badly it reflects on their religion as a whole, or specifically, its credibility. Before you go bragging about your religion’s power to change the world for the better, don’t you think you should demonstrate that power in your own life?

Corey Booker, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, put it this way:

“My simple point is that I judge a person’s faith by how they live their life, not by the tenets of their religion. I’ve watched the holiest of people walk past somebody in need or treat their staff mean. To me, the beauty of faith is only seen when people live it consistently or struggle to do so.”

The fact that so few people live their lives in accordance with the tenets of their faiths tells me that they don’t really believe them. And so why should I? Don’t try to convert me to your religion, or to accept the existence of an all-powerful god when your own words and actions tell me that you yourself don’t believe one exists.

The Gay Agenda, or, Fear And Loathing in The House of God

The “Gay Agenda” is a phrase religious leaders love to use as a rallying cry for their followers. According to their theory, first postulated back in the ‘70s by Anita Bryant, the fact that gays don’t have children means that we have to convert others to our way of life. Sorry, Anita; we don’t try to convert anyone. You’re thinking of The Jehovah’s Witnesses.

But it is true: there is indeed a “gay agenda.” I was unaware of this fact, but I just got my copy in this morning’s mail. I know it’s accurate, because it was sent by the Head Homosexual himself. I am reproducing it below in its entirety:

    6:00 am  Gym
8:00 am  Breakfast (oatmeal and egg whites)
9:00 am  Hair appointment
10:00 am  Shopping
12:00 PM  Brunch

    2:00 PM
1) Assume complete control of the U.S. Federal, State and Local Governments as well as all other national governments,
2) Recruit all straight youngsters to our debauched lifestyle,
3) Destroy all healthy heterosexual marriages,
4) Replace all school counselors in grades K-12 with agents of Colombian and Jamaican drug cartels,
5) Establish planetary chain of “homo breeding gulags” where over-medicated imprisoned straight women are turned into artificially impregnated baby factories to produce prepubescent love slaves for our devotedly pederastic gay leadership,
6) bulldoze all houses of worship, and
7) Secure total control of the Internet and all mass media for the exclusive use of child pornographers.

    2:30 PM   Get forty winks of beauty rest to prevent facial wrinkles from stress of world conquest
4:00 PM  Cocktails
6:00 PM  Light Dinner (soup, salad, with Chardonnay)
8:00 PM  Theater
11:00 PM  Bed (du jour)?

(Source: http://www.netfunny.com/rhf/jokes/99/Sep/agenda.html)

But please! Remember that this is a joke! I almost didn’t post it for fear that someone would take it seriously. After all, truly fundamentalist believers are not noted for their refined senses of humor.

And if you’re wondering about my own gay agenda, here it is:

Wake up

Get out of bed

Make coffee

Drink coffee

Wrack my brains trying to come up with a topic for today’s post

Wonder for the umpteenth time if being queer is the same as being gay or lesbian and, if so, which one am I?

And that’s pretty much it, with daily variations.

The Atheism Agenda

Can we talk? Come a little closer. Are we alone? Good! I’m going to let you in on the dirty little truth about The Atheism Agenda: It doesn’t exist!

Lisa R. Petty does a much job of explaining the whole thing in her wonderful article at Huffington Post, entitled (appropriately enough) The Atheist Agenda. If you’re interested in why it doesn’t exist, I recommend reading her article.

It Ain’t Just Queers That Have to Worry

Several legal experts who have analyzed some of these “right to discriminate” laws are already warning that they form the basis of allowing people to refuse to perform interracial marriages. Conceivably, since the bible condemns left-handedness, they could also be construed as prohibiting left-handed people from getting married, or adopting children.

Finally, This Is What It Comes Down To For Me

wrong choice

Thanks a lot, all-loving god.

The New Christians, And Why I’m Not One of Them (Part 1)

The New Christians, And Why I’m Not One of Them (Part 1)

 

I’ve Rejected Christianity

But it’s not just Christianity; I no longer profess any religion. Not the one I was brought up in, nor any of the others I’ve tried over the 65 years of my life. Becoming an atheist wasn’t anything I decided to do; rather it was a gradual recognition that the word was the best description of my belief system.

Or rather the lack thereof. You see, atheism isn’t a belief system. It’s not something you “believe in.” But before we go any further, let’s define what we’re talking about.

a·the·ism

ˈāTHēˌizəm/

noun

noun: atheism

disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.

synonyms:nonbelief, disbelief, unbelief, irreligion, skepticism, doubt, agnosticism;

nihilism

“atheism was not freely discussed in his community”

(Source: https://www.google.com/search?q=define%3Aatheism&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8)

And here’s a nifty linguistic secret: the fact that “God” is capitalized while “gods” isn’t, is a dead giveaway to the very strong probability that this entry was written by a monotheist.

But I digress.

Some History

I was born into a very religious household. Shortly after my birth, my father was ordained as a minister in the Lutheran church, and shortly after that, he was commissioned an officer, a chaplain, in the United States Air Force.

Growing up a PK (“Preacher’s Kid) had its benefits as well as its drawbacks. I was always “on,” in that everyone knew who I was, so that I always had to be on my best behavior. And while this wasn’t hard to do when I was a child, it started to be a problem when I got older. Specifically, when I became a teenager and discovered all of the wonderful ins and outs of our beautifuckingfull language. But those problems were offset by the (false) belief of parents that their precious daughters were safe in the hands (and arms and back seat) of The Chaplain’s Son.

But something I had noticed over the years was that the behavior of many Christians didn’t quite jibe with their professed beliefs.[i] If I had to pick a time when I started having doubts, I suppose it would be when I first made that observation.

Leaving Home

“Leaving home” meant going away to college. I had no choice in this: it was just something that was expected of me. Nor did I have a choice in the particular college I went to: Texas Lutheran College gave discounted tuition to the children of the clergy, and so that’s where I went. Besides, it was only 30 miles from home.

For me, the best part about it was not having to get up on Sunday morning to go to church and then Sunday school. (Well, to be honest, that was the second best thing. The first was getting laid on a regular basis.) And that’s the funny thing about religion for a lot of us: unless your beliefs are constantly being reinforced (which I now realize is the main reason for going to church at all), they can rapidly die off. In that respect, religion is like a living plant: without constant nurturing, it dies.

At least that’s been my experience with religion. Every single one I tried.

Some Context

As Joni Mitchell sang in her generational anthem , “Woodstock,”
Well maybe it is just the time of year
Or maybe it’s the time of man
I don’t know who I am
But you know life is for learning[ii]

I went away to college in 1968. One year after the so-called “Summer of Love”. One year after I discovered the wonders of marijuana, and a year before psilocybin, and LSD. The Beatles had released “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” the year before, and were about to release the game-changing “Hey Jude.”

Who am I kidding? EVERYTHING the Beatles did was game-changing. “Hey Jude” was over seven minutes long, leading George Martin (their producer) to say that it was too long, and that radio stations wouldn’t play it. Paul McCartney just smile and predicted—quite rightly, as it turned out—“They will if it’s us.”

I first heard “Hey Jude” while at the swimming pool during my Water Safety Instructor Certification class—which I had to drop later after my near-drowning at Stinky Falls. The worst part about dropping the class was that it was the only one I had with the (unrequited) love of my life, Candy Sorensen.

The Good, The Bad, And The ADHD

A psychiatrist once diagnosed me with ADHD. I can’t remember his name, but what do you expect? I have ADHD: I can’t remember stuff like that!

But it’s a perfect example of how things have changed in my lifetime. When I was in school, we didn’t know about ADD or ADHD or whatever it’s called these days. Consequently, I was “not paying attention,” “a day-dreamer,” “not living up to her potential,” and a dozen other labels.” Oh, and if you got caught with drugs, you were expelled.

Nowadays, if you’re diagnosed with ADHD, you’re put on drugs.

One of the practical results of my ADHD is the way my mind flits from subject to subject, as it did while writing this entry. And that’s why it’s a bit long. And rather than going on, I’m going to close it now, and save the rest of it for my next post.

Once again, thanks for stopping by.

Robyn

[i] I’m not deliberately picking on Christians–it’s just that Christianity was what I grew up in, and so that’s all I had the opportunity to observe.

[ii] “Woodstock,” by Joni Mitchell, http://jonimitchell.com/music/song.cfm?id=75

We’re All Natural-Born Atheists

We’re All Natural-Born Atheists

More than any other topic, atheism gets me into trouble with some of my readers. And I have no doubt that this post’s title already has a few of you up in arms. But before you parade with rakes and picks through the village, hunting me down like some 21st century Frankenstein’s monster, allow me to explain.

a·the·ist
ˈāTHēəst/
noun
noun: atheist; plural noun: atheists

  1. a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods.
    “he is a committed atheist”

    synonyms:
    nonbeliever, disbeliever, unbeliever, skeptic, doubter, doubting Thomas, agnostic;
    nihilist

    antonyms:
    believer

That is the dictionary definition of atheist. Note that it says nothing about hating gods or God, or anything about religious beliefs or religious people. An atheist is simply a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods.

When I say I am an atheist, I am simply stating a lack of belief. My atheism tells you nothing about my morals, my own personal philosophy of life, the universe, and everything (42), or anything else. And to be completely honest, I don’t like the word atheism; ism implies a belief system or a creed, whereas what I hold is a lack of belief.

The word atheism shoudn’t even exist, in the same way there is no such thing as avampirism, aunicornism, or athorism, all of which could describe me because I also don’t believe in vampires, unicorns, or Thor.

Encyclopedia of Gods estimates that there are some 2500 deities that are recognized around the world. If you are a monotheist, that means that you disbelieve in 2499 other gods than yours. I just take it one step further.

“I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” —Stephen F Roberts

When I claim, as I did in the title, that “We’re All Natural-Born Atheists,” all I’m saying is that none of us is born believing in any deity. Religion is something that has to be taught in order for it to gain new adherents. I also claim that there is no such thing as a “Christian baby;” there are only babies of Christian parents. And what accounts for the fact that the baby was born to Christian parents?

In a word, geography. In the United States, for the longest time, any child born here was by and large born into a Christian family. There were a few exceptions, of course, but mostly they were Christian families.

By the same token, however, had that child been born in India, it most likely would have been born into either a Hindu or Muslim family, and raised in either of those religious traditions. The same is true of Israel, where most children were born into Jewish families.

So your entire belief system is the result of an accident of geography. You were raised in a particular religion because that’s what your parents practiced, and in most cases, you weren’t given a choice in the matter: you were programmed to believe as you believe not because it is absolute fact but rather unprovable belief.

And don’t think I’m disrespecting belief by calling it unprovable; that’s exactly what belief is: “the state of mind in which a person thinks something to be the case, with or without there being empirical evidence to prove that something is the case with factual certainty. In other words, belief is when someone thinks something is reality, true, when they have no absolute verified foundation for their certainty of the truth or realness of something.” (Wikipedia)

I’ll leave you with these two thoughts:

god watches all

hate the belief

See you next time.