Missions

In a group I am in on Facebook we were talking about Christian missions and how they seem kinda silly.  People spend lots of money and time to go places to spread the word of god.  I understand as Christians you are called upon by god to spread his word but when you are going to countries where Christianity is already abundant what is the point? It has always seemed to me like an interesting way to get your congregation to pay for your family vacation/homeschooling field trip.  

But my real serious question that came up was why do Christians not actually try to spread the word to the people who really need Christianity?  Why do I only hear about missions to places like South America and Africa usually?  There are a lot of people in these places but a lot of them have not only been introduced to Christianity but are active Christians and many are already there doing missions.  Why don’t I hear about missions to the Middle East?  Isn’t that the real test of your faith?  Really go out there are try to spread the word to people who have no access to your god’s word.  Sure it would be dangerous, but wasn’t it dangerous for Jesus to run around telling everyone he was the son of god? Of course you aren’t as good of a person as Jesus but shouldn’t you, as a Christian, aspire to be as good as Jesus?  Go out and actually experience real persecution.  Not persecution of your faith because a judge decided that gays can get married in your state but the type of persecution where you have to have secret meetings in basements of sympathizers to even share your message and then hope nobody rats you out to the government whose laws are the laws of their majority religion (and by majority I mean only) because you will likely be hunted down and killed.  

What you don’t want to die? Don’t you trust that your god is stronger than the evil and that you are good enough to be saved from that? 

This is where I think that deep down christians do doubt the whole thing – they are not willing to make that sacrifice.  They are not willing to put their life on the line because they do not believe that their god will save them because time and time again christians have seen evil win over and over despite the supposed power of their all-knowing and loving god.  

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Axial Tilt

Since the fall semester just ended and quick winter session starts monday I figured now would be a good time to say Merry Christmas/ Bah Humbug.  Yes I celebrate Christmas.  It’s tradition.  I don’t celebrate the birth of Jesus but I sure do like participating in the annual economy boosting ritual that is the time from mid-November to New Year. 

I do think my kittens might be bigger atheists than myself because they take down my tree at least once every few days.  I’m not sure why the vendetta against the tree but between kitten sabotage and the mostly spring-like weather outside I’m not feeling very christmassy.  Maybe if I can manage to get it decorated with more than 10 plastic balls and a soccer scarf then possibly wrap a few presents I would feel more merry and less bah humbug.  

I was thinking of taking the kids to a Christmas eve celebration with singing and candles – i just hope I can find one because I do remember those fondly.  I think it would be an interesting tradition.  Church for the songs, then hot cocoa after (even if it is 60 degrees outside) and maybe drive around and look at some lights.   Though I have little kids and I would like to do this before midnight.   Apparently I have amassed a few christian friends at school that go to church so surely one of them attends one with a 7pm christmas eve singing service?    I guess I should start asking around. 

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Same Difference

When we talk about other’s religious history and beliefs we call it folktale and mythology but when we speak of our own religious history it is fact.

The more I read about different religions or beliefs the more I realize everyone has the same stories just slightly different to suit their cultural situations.  It seems more and more like the biggest problem isn’t that everybody disagrees it is that everyone refuses to learn about other cultures and religions.    If everyone just stopped acting so full of themselves as if they have all the answers in their own little book they would realize that everyone else has the same answers.  

Now my question always becomes are those answers universal because of a supreme being or are they universal because just like how no one has to tell you what love, no one has to tell you that taking another’s life is wrong.  

Answers from an Atheist Part 2

Q:  What do you think is the “final straw” that causes most atheists to become atheists?

 

A:  I always like this assumption – that there was a “final straw.”  I think for most atheists there was no defining moment where they were like “Oh hey this god stuff is bullshit.  I am done with it.”

Sure I do think there are some people who have things happen in their life that are so drastic and life altering that they literally do lose their religion.  This is especially true when they would have been considered good christians and who prayed and asked for god to help them and nothing happened.  When you are told that your prayers will be answered and they aren’t you tend to think its a bunch of lies especially if it happens over and over.  So you either have to believe you aren’t good enough for god to answer your prayers, you didn’t pray enough or that there is no god listening.

I didn’t have a “final straw” moment.  I did have a moment where  logical things I had seen that drew me towards Mormonism became the logic that pushed me out the door.  Sometimes I think I should have the missionaries over to discuss this and see what they have to say about it.  Even so that moment didn’t make me have a sudden disbelief in god though it did provide a loophole in which to take a look deep inside myself.  It still took a few years before I was able to actually define the feelings I had been having about god.

Its incredibly hard to be raised to believe in this god  in a country where everyone seems to believe in it too and have doubts.  I truly believe there are many people out there who say they believe in god simply because everyone else does.  Peer pressure is incredibly hard to overcome.
I think that more likely Atheists’ “final straw” is more a coming out – when they are finally fed up with hearing things like “it was in god’s plan” or “god is good” or just any of the other things that are thrown out on a daily basis by well meaning Christians.  So then they post it on facebook , or tell their family and there is a relief to be able to be who you are and openly (maybe) not believe in what everyone else seems to believe in.

Becoming Atheist is a process of introspection and logical and reasonable thinking over time but coming out as an atheist is the “final straw”

Answers from an Atheist part 1

I guess either no one really reads this anymore – and can I blame anyone when I have barely been posting? Or every one who is Christian isn’t actually interested in getting to understand the other view. Or you feel like you have heard it all already.  Whatever the reason – it’s ok.  So there were not many questions but I am going to spread them out over a few posts because no one wants to read a novel here.

Q: If I’m recalling correctly, you said earlier that you *wanted* to believe. What percentage of atheists do you think feel this way? Do you still feel that way yourself (again, if I am remembering correctly)?

A:  When I say that I “want” to believe it is because it would be infinitely easier to feel that I wasn’t in control of my life sometimes.  Oh that bad thing that happened? It’s god’s plan, not my fault.  For example when Jack fell off the bench at the soccer game last year and I watched his eyes roll into his head as he passed out and I wasn’t sure he was breathing.  I watched his entire future life pass in front of me and all I could think was it was all my fault.  If he died, or had brain damage, or was paralyzed then it was all my fault because I wasn’t paying enough attention. People who believe in god seem to feel that way at first about things but then they say that it is god’s plan.  That  god doesn’t give you more than you can handle.  All those lovely phrases that to most atheists (and many christians) are insulting at the worst and insensitive in the least.

Its not that I want to believe because I think it would be better but it is more that often I don’t want to take responsibility for everything that I don’t like or to think that there is a higher power out there that knows better than I do and will make everything right.

The analogy of god as a parent really is accurate – someone who will let you fall but then pick you up, kiss your boo-boos and make it all better.  Who doesn’t “want” to believe in that?  So yeah I want to believe but I just can’t.

I still feel this way but again only when I am feeling like I just don’t want to take responsibility for what is happening in my life or when I really wish there could be a big giant daddy that comes in and makes everything all better.

As for other Atheists I know some have said they do think this too, but again only sometimes.  The problem with having this deity who is always in control is the inverse of having them take responsibility – its when god is given all the credit.

Right now I have the best single semester GPA I have ever had in my life.  I have worked hard for this and my family has  sacrificed – especially my oldest who babysits a lot so that I can go to the library and study or even just lock myself in my room to get my homework done.  This is my hard work and my success.  Not god’s.

So even if sometimes I say I want to believe – its only because I want someone else to blame when things are going down the toilet.

Ask an Atheist Day

I imagine if you do not know a lot of atheists then you would have no idea it is “Ask an Atheist Day.”  Well it is and here is a little blurb about it

atheist“National Ask An Atheist Day is an opportunity for secular groups across the country to work together to defeat stereotypes about atheism and encourage courteous dialogue between believers and nonbelievers alike. The event is intended to be an opportunity for the general public – particularly people of faith – to approach us and ask questions about secular life.”

Since this blog should be as much about me learning about Christianity as it should be you learning about secular life.  Both groups have extremists and it and it a shame when anyone is pigeonholed into those beliefs as if they speak for everyone.

So ask me a question.  I will answer what I believe and what I think most atheists think in regards to your question.

I will answer every single question (as long as they are appropriate) in a subsequent blog post.  I figure since people tend to come back to my blog over a week after posting I will give everyone a week to get their questions posted in the comments.

If you don’t want to post publicly you can always email me – victoriousolive [ at ] me [dot] com

(also I am sorry for my lack of posting as of late but trying to keep straight A’s in 16 units at school with half being science classes is pretty much taking up my whole life)

Why?

I have been thinking lately about why I have not only kept this blog going (even if in a very limited state) but recently I even bought and changed the URL to http://www.temporarychristian.com.

I feel like this is something important to me. I am not looking for a god but I have found at with the right people I can really enjoy going to church. Crazy I know but really not unusual.

Last year I read an article about the atheists in the pew. Lots of atheists are going to church for the community aspect and because it does provide a way to talk about religion with you kids. One of the complaints about religion by anti-theists is that children are indoctrinated at an early age to not only believe but that there is no other options. Children grow up thinking that they will be disowned by their family if they are non-believers. Being an atheist is considered the unforgivable sin right? This isn’t just here-say but based on the fact that very few atheists grew up that way. More often than not they come from very religious families. Families that you probably sit next to in church every Sunday. The type of people you think are great Christians.
The thing is I don’t want to do exactly what I criticize religious parents for doing. I don’t want to indoctrinate my children into my disbelief. I want them to be exposed to different things. I want them to experience all sorts of different religions.
For myself I would just like to feel part of a group a bit larger than my family. A selection of open-minded friends to get together with on the weekends sometimes. People to talk about day to day stuff with. Basically the same thing I think everyone wants in life.
I think it’ll take a bit to find those truly open-minded people who don’t be friend me simply to try to “save” me but its ok I think it’ll be worth it. Plus it will be fun (and free donuts) along the way.

Up and Down.

I have actually made the jump back into going to church.  The same friend I was helping to decide what to give up for Lent I also helped go back to church after about 6 months by asking to go with her.  
She is Episcopalian which is what I was christened as when I was a newbie to the world.  I don’t ever remember going to an Episcopalian church when I was little but if I did it would have been before my parents divorced when I was 2 and I don’t remember anything back that far anyway.  
This was a very different experience.  First we were late which means we snuck in to services but still ended up sitting in the front.  Sitting in the front makes it hard to take furious notes without seeming rude.  It was ok though because after 5 months in a elementary school gym turned church I was busy taking in the very formal church environment.  

Somethings were very familiar from when I was going to Lutheran church back in the 80’s.  There were lots of candles, hymnals and the preaching “staff” were formally dressed in what I am going to call gowns.  
Somethings that were different was they had women participating in more that just the choir. Of the people carrying the candles (not sure of the name) one was a woman and the Deacon is also a woman.

Unlike when I attended Oasis last year this was very formal.  The Deacon assured me since it was the first Sunday of Lent it was more formal than normal but I think their less formal is still way more formal than a non-denominational church like Oasis.  There was a lot of standing and sitting and participation.  The up and down reminded me of not only Lutherans but also Mormons.  Everytime you sing you have to stand up.  Oasis stood up during song but singing only happened at the beginning and end.  
The service was also very formal with entire readings from the bible and less of the comparing it to actual life.  I was having a hard time hearing (and I was distracted by looking around) so all I really caught was a metaphor about how God is that nosy guest who comes over and takes themselves on a tour of your house including all the rooms you don’t want people seeing.  I got the message which was good and I wasn’t offended.  Though of course the Atheist in me thinks God is a creeper always watching you.

I was impressed with the how everyone seemed to be open to everyone else.  They had a gay couple, had people in jeans with tattoos, families and the elderly.  I like when a church actually practices most of what they preach. 

So my first Sunday opinion is it’s Catholic Lite.  All the taste of the Catholics with less of the judgements.

 

21 Day Fast

I’m going to be writing a more extensive post later but starting today I’m participating in a 21 day fast that the church I was attending in Colorado is doing.
They are doing it as an online event so anyone can participate and my good friend invited me.

I have wanted to start this blog back up for a bit but not enough to search out a new church so this is a good enough reason for me.

I haven’t yet watched the Pastor’s sermon about it but that is on my to-do list for the day.

Since obviously I’m not giving up food completely for 21 days I am giving up something that might as well be my daily sustenance.  All sodas and caffeinated drinks.

So onward and upward! Today will be an interesting caffeine-free day.

Found a Church (at least for now)

Last Sunday we had a soccer game to go to here in Las Vegas. It was huge.  Real Madrid (the Italian League Champions) versus Club Santos Laguna (the MExican League Champions).   Real Madrid won 2-1 as expected though Santos put up a good fight.  It was a good game and I had a nice evening out with my husband and a friend (and no kids!)

Because my husband worked right before the game he had to meet me there so we obviously left separately.  He went straight home since he had to work in the morning and I went to get the kids from the babysitter’s house.  On the way I saw a sign in a strip mall that said “Epic Church.” I remember thinking that sounded interesting and I wondered if it really was “Epic.”

Well unlike every other church I have passed and I try to remember the name to, I actually remembered this one.  So it looks pretty cool.  Maybe even more laid back than my last church (if that is even possible).  So now instead of church in a school it will be church in a strip mall.

Its about 22 miles from my house so it’ll will have to be impressive to keep me going for more than 2 visits (I think twice  is fair, right?).  Though starting anew does bring up all the questions of before; do I admit my atheism right off? Do I keep it to myself and if so, for how long?  Should I just go with the flow?

This time I don’t have a friend to show me the ropes and I cannot believe I am actually excited but I’m going to jump back in and see how this all works out.