Sign Language.

I’ve been in a Sign Language class for school.  It’s not a requirement but it will replace a B with an A for one of my pre-requisites but that is just a bonus.  I took it because I think my hearing loss has gotten worse in the last year.  I’m having a hard time hearing stuff even with the hearing aids.  They are at the same setting they have been at for awhile and with exception of my Microbiology teacher (who lectures like we are in a hall of 200 not a room that only fits 40) I keep having to have people repeat their questions especially if I cannot see them when they speak.

So I think I am picking it up pretty good but I want more experience and have seriously thought about going to a church that has several deaf people in it to get more experience.  I already try to go to the socials they have at the book store but its so overwhelming.  I don’t think church would be less overwhelming but it would be a lot of idle chatter and that is all I am ok at right now.  

One thing I wonder is why have i never heard about deaf people in the bible?  I am sure there must have been a lot since some of the ways to become deaf are the mother getting rubella while pregnant or the child getting an illness like meningitis as a child and of course there is hereditary deafness also. 

Maybe I just haven’t looked in the right place?  Maybe they are hiding with the mention of kangaroos?

I am really enjoying learning a new language.  Though it really pushes my limits with the public speaking thing because when I have to get up in from the class and sign something.  “Speaking” in a new to me language in front of 40 other people is 100 time worse than doing it in my own language.  :sigh:

So church with deaf people for the language experience, is this a bad reason to go?  

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)

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.

42.

Everything was such a slow start then – BOOM.  Explosion.  And everything moves at lightning speed.

Without my husband even going out to Las Vegas we have some more questions answered.

  •  He has accepted the job officially.
  • That job is technically with a different company even though the parent company remains the same
  • He has a start date.
  • He will be making more money (but just a little)
  • He gets to keep his original date of hire with the parent company.
  • He needs to be out there 4 days earlier than we expected this time around.

FOUR. DAYS. EARLIER.

This really messes with our original plan.  He was going to leave on Thursday but since he needs to be there on thursday he is leaving tomorrow (tuesday).  My husband is going to get off work in the morning, come home, load up the moving van, then leave for Las Vegas.  Once he arrivesin Las Vegas (about 15 hours later) he is going to go to the place where we have a storage unit reserved and unload our life into a 10’x12′ space.  Then he can go to my dad’s house and sleep til morning when he has to meet with the bosses at what will soon be his new place of employment.

Its all happening  quickly.  We are all packed up essentially.  I think this is because we have been working on getting to this point since before Christmas.  The prospect of a big move is exciting and nerve racking at the same time.

I have been trying to keep up on reading the bible, going to church, etc but how does one do this with everything else going on?

I did try to read The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel but it was the student edition and therefore, I felt like it was written for 5th graders.  What I had been hoping for was a condensed version of the full book.  I am hoping  a full book is better and doesn’t just use the premise that the bible is 100% true to make all of his points and expect me to believe them.  (I did not finish the book, even in its shortened format, so maybe it was better later?)

My best example is if there was a nuclear war and all but a few died and the only book left was Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, would that mean that Dolphins are the smartest animals on the Planet?  Would that mean that the reason that almost all life had been obliterated was there was a mishap with the bulldozing of the Earth for a galactic bypass?   No, but you can bet that people would believe that because they had no other answers to their questions.  Instead of God there would be Douglas Adams and instead of Jesus there would be Arthur Dent.  And all those answers would be 42.

Its really not that far of a stretch.   My point here is that if an author is going to use logic and reason to convince me of an existence of God then it needs to do it with more than just its own guide to life.

Crazy Days

It has been a whirlwind of crazy around here lately.  The kids are out of school, everyone go sick and we are packing like mad people because all of our stuff is going to Las Vegas NEXT WEEK!

Ok not all of it but like 95% of it.  The rest is staying here with us for the month of June and will either be sold or donated right before the end of the month when I pack up myself and the kids and we head to California to visit family for the month of July.  We will find out the specifics of a job offer on the 11th when my husband is in Vegas yet again to meet with them.  At least when he goes this time it should end in something official.

We decided we are moving. Period.  There will be a start date and worst case is it is in October but best case it is the end of June.  Hence our stuff going down there now so that it is there when, for sure, the kids and I need to be there win August before school starts.

Did I mention we are on break already?  The kids aren’t getting on my nerves yet which is surprising but there are still 87 days of summer left for them to do so.

We haven’t been to church in a few weeks despite how I actually really wanted to go because they were doing the marriage series.  Everyone was sick and not all at once – that would be too convenient.  This virus has gone slowly through our house over the last 3 weeks.  The worst effected was the oldest and youngest girl.  The former ending up with an ear infection and the latter having a fever that hovered around 102 every night for a weekend (she would be fine in the morning making me think she was fine and therefore skipping urgent care).

Even though we won’t be here by July when the series will be “Ask the Pastor” I am going to use the next few weeks to come up with some good questions and then hopefully I can see the replies on You Tube.  (The services get put up every week)

In July we will be heading to church with my best friend (unless I can convince her to skip out every weekend for the beach!) So that will be a new experience with new people and hopefully lots of new stuff to write about.

Blessed

Its been a super crazy time here at the Temporary Christian house and there is a break in the chaos – but only right now at 2:30 in the morning. 😉

First thing, THANK YOU to everyone who helped out.  I had some incredibly wonderful women bless me with financial help when my family really needed it.  I was able to put food in the fridge and fuel in my gas tank sooner than not at all because of their generosity.

One thing putting my situation out there for the whole world to read did was really make me get up off my butt and do something about that situation.  So I had a garage sale.  What I didn’t sell at the garage sale I either donated or pawned.  I made $500 from that and regained 3/4 of my garage back.  It was like a quadruple win because with that $500 I had the money to negotiate and extension on our car payments.  It will cost us more overall (which is, no doubt, why the finance company approved it) but making the one payment on each vehicle brought us up to date.  Good timing because we were about a week away from repossession on the car.  I used the extra to reward my helpers with Pizza for dinner; they deserved it.

My friend Stefanie, who I attend church with, helped in many different ways like donating her left over garage sale stuff to mine, bringing us dinner one night and letting me know that the church had a benevolence fund that might be willing to help.  Walking into the church office to get the paperwork out and then filling it out was incredibly hard.  I am extremely grateful that I even had the option to ask and the church approved my request and paid my electric bill.  Not just the past due to keep my lights on but the whole thing.   That was such a relief.

Through a contact with the local news station we hd a reporter call us about our problems with the State of Florida and the child support people.  We thought they would be able to help but, understandably, they didn’t want to sit on hold for an hour to try to maybe find something out.  So the story died and our possible help went down the drain.  Being told by yet another person that it just wasn’t really that important to help us get our $3200 back was really upsetting so what did my husband do?  He emailed the governors office.  Yes, he sent an email directly to the Governor of the State of Colorado about how the stet was not helping or caring that a law abiding tax paying voting citizen had basically had $3200 stolen from him because of a possible “computer error.”

If you want something done apparently you have to go over the heads of everyone and bitch to the governor because it worked.  The governor’s office called us, got the details and forwarded them to the state liaison.  The state liaison called us and clarified the details and called our local child support enforcement office and I am guessing told that lady how things needed to go.  It was still a few more days since nothing can be super quick, but eventually they did enough digging and found out that there were 147 people who had the exact same thing happen but because they were all in varying counties they didn’t realize it was an epidemic and not just single occurrences.  The state attorney general was brought into the whole thing and they took over and viola after they took over we got our money back from Florida within 10 days.  Which coincidentally was right before we needed to pay rent for May which we of course didn’t have.

:GIANT SIGH OF RELIEF:

So we paid some more bills, got my over drafted checking account back in the black, bought some much needed shoes for the 2 youngest, and as a splurge (and early mother’s day present) I bought some running shoes for me.  I don’t run but I am trying to be healthier and lose some extra weight.  We have extra in savings right now because we are going to need it to move.  I AM sure my husband will get the transfer he applied for (though he needs to go out there one more time) but even if we aren’t moving to Las Vegas we will be moving out of this house because we just cannot afford it.  Which brings me to my next unexpected blessing.

Dave Ramsey.  The church is sponsoring Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.  They were having a drawing for a free lifetime membership and of course I entered.  I didn’t win.  😦 I decided it would be worth it to pay the $70 for the class/membership and hopefully learn how to never be in this predicament again.  First I was offered a scholarship so it would only cost me $35 but I didn’t have the money on me.  That was ok and just take care of it at the first class.  Well when I got there they told me the church decided to gift me the full cost.  Maybe that is not a big deal for the church but it was wonderful for me.  Anytime anyone gives you a gift it is wonderful but this is something that will truly keep giving for the rest of our lives.

The help that has been provided to me has definitely been the type of help that Jesus gave to those around him when he was alive.  I know I said that God would have to prove to me his existence in a very large and tangible way but I just still cannot change my belief.  What I have come to believe is that there is a good in Christianity.

There is a group of people called “Anti-theists.”  They are atheists that no only don’t believe in a god but do believe that belief in one is harmful.  I can see where they get these ideas from.  Many atrocities have been done in the name of god.  Whichever god one believes in, it doesn’t matter, horrible things have been done for that god or because of the teachings of the religion that worships that god.
What this past month did for me was make me believe in the good in Christianity.  I still think there are some pretty bad things in it that I don’t agree with but there are some pretty awesome things.   Things like actually helping people without expecting anything in return.  Providing for the community because its the right thing to do.  The argument goes that an Atheist does these things because they are right not out of fear from a vengeful god.  But I think that the good parts of Christianity lead the good people to do even better and helps the people who might not have otherwise seen a reason to reach out to someone who is different actually reach out to them.

So whether it was god telling you it was the right thing to do or doing it because you’ve been there and want to pay it forward or just because you wanted to, helping other people when they need it is always a good thing.
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(Wow it took me an hour to write this post and it is really time to go to bed now.)

He Wants You To Fit In

There are 2 Christian Radio stations that I have found locally that I have been listening to.  I prefer the talk show based one since it has more talk radio and more religious music versus the “trying to be mainstream” Christian music station.  I was listening to one of the local religious radio stations last Friday  and the host said something that really moved me.

“He doesn’t want you to get in, He wants you to fit in.”

The host went on to talk about how at the Second Coming when Jesus comes you will get a new body, all your ailments will disappear, your body will be perfect, but your character is yours.  Character is something that one needs to be growing right now because the character you have at the second coming will be your character for eternity.  You get a new perfect body and hopefully your character is worthy of it, but I am not worried about my Character.  I am concerned with not being an outsider.

I don’t fit in.  I won’t fit in.  I have been trying to figure out how to address this for a month and every time I start to write it just doesn’t come out right but now I think I finally have the right words.

I don’t see how, even if I decided there was a God, would I ever fit in?

I do not believe that life begins at conception.  I support the right to have a abortion if a woman wants for whatever reason she wants only because I support the rights of all people, young and old to make their own decisions for their own body.  I support gays; I support them in getting married or civil unions or whatever the government wants to call it.  I don’t think they are bad people and I don’t think they are doing anything wrong just because they love another with the same sex chromosomes as them.  I believe in evolution.  I do not believe that the earth is just 6000 years old or that dinosaurs were just made up by atheist scientists to fool the masses into disbelieving in God.  (OK I’m not sure how many christians believe the 6000 year old Earth and Dino thing but really they come out in droves on the internet).

I know that America is not a Christian Nation built on Christian beliefs and even if we were? We were also a nation of people that at that time believed we could own other people.  Money didn’t have “In God We Trust” on it til the 50’s same with the Pledge of Allegiance; it did not say “One nation under God until then either.  Those changes were brought on by the fear of communism and Cold War.  (I am still not sure what one had to do with the other though- I should probably research that.)  I don’t believe that there should be prayer in school, not for Muslims, not for Mormons, not for Hindus, not for Catholics and not for Christians.  I think that sex education, though primarily the responsibility of the parents, should be taught in schools and that includes teaching about prevention not just abstinence.

It seems that my beliefs on social issues do not align with the bible or with the majority of the Christian populous.  I think that is must be ridiculously hard to be a Scientist, a Gay or Pro-Choice and still believe in a God that apparently doesn’t think you fit in.  I wouldn’t fit in and I don’t see myself changing my beliefs on social issues and from a few of the responses I can tell that though a few other Atheists that have become Christians haven’t changed their core social beliefs.

So even though I enjoy the learning aspect of church and I will still keep going because I do enjoy what I am learning; I still do not agree with most of it; I don’t fit in and I don’t see that changing.