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Offline Dr H

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It's TESTIFYIN' TIME ...
« on: October 17, 2013, 04:25:38 PM »
... so gather 'round, brothers, sisters, and others, and Hallelujah!
  I'm posting this by request, for any who haven't seen it before:

<cue gospel music; pass out complimentary poisonous snakes; alert the guys with the donation baskets...>


As recently as 5-6 years ago I would have said the story of my atheist awakening was pretty typical. It may still be, but I have reassessed it recently, and I'm still examining it from the new perspective, so I'm less certain at this point how common my experience is.

Dad was Roman Catholic, mom was Russian Orthodox, but she had to agree to raise the kids in the RCC in order to marry my dad. So, although the progeny were sent through the public school system, we were duly indoctrinated in the arcanae and rituals of the Catholic church in Friday afternoon "religious instruction" sessions at the Catholic school. (These were a mixed blessing -- we Catholic kids got to leave public school a half hour early on Fridays and goof around on the streets on our way to the Catholic school. OTOH, we sat in Religious Instruction class for an hour after all our friends in the public school had gone home for the weekend.)

We then got to practice these rituals Sundays and holidays at church. (When I was very young, dad was also the choir director and organist; eventually he wised up and moved into public school teaching...) I was also exposed to Russian Orthodox churches and rituals whenever we visited mom's relatives (the RO church was much like the RCC, except they really went in for gold icons in a big way).

We were taught a lot of things that didn't strike me as much different in nature from the Aesop's' fables, Greek myths, and various kid's stories with talking animals, etc. that we got in the public school. We were also taught a lot of stuff that even as early as 7 or 8 years old didn't make sense to me. Unlike public school, asking probing questions during religious instruction was -not- encouraged by the nuns, many of which were first generation immigrants from eastern Europe and didn't speak English all that well, anyway.

Some of the stuff they taught us was downright weird, and when I brought some of it home to my parents they thought it was weird, too. Interestingly, when this happened with public school issues, it usually resulted in parental inquiries to the school, and sometimes parent/teacher conferences. When it happened with religious instruction, no such inquiries or conferences occurred. My parents' attitudes seemed to be that we weren't really supposed to understand the finer points of theology and biblology, but simply learn our lessons so that we could spit them back at rote to the nuns, as we were led through the various milestone "sacraments" like confession, communion, confirmation, etc.

In those days Catholics weren't encouraged to read the Bible (as far as I can tell, they still aren't, mostly). It wasn't forbidden, just not encouraged. Few Catholic families of my acquaintance even owned a complete Bible. What we had were "catechisms" for the kids, and "missals" for the adults. These contained various Biblical excerpts and other information (ritual responses, prayers, etc.) that were officially tied to each particular Mass of the year. If you had questions beyond that you were expected to talk to your priest, who would answer them for you -- maybe.

I had an early interest in science and math which was, fortunately, encouraged. As I grew older, and learned more and more about how the physical world worked, I found myself wondering more and more why so much emphasis was being placed on my learning the particular set of unlikely stories being presented by the nuns and priests. And I found the "answers" I was getting from those functionaries to be less and less compelling. God didn't really seem to be necessary, and no one had a good explanation as to why He was.

Unbelief, however, was not an option. At the time, I didn't really even know that such a state existed. It was never talked about in any meaningful way. The word "atheist" was rarely heard, and when it was it was in the same sort of hushed and mildly disgusted tone as someone might say "child molester".

Beyond the bare definition that an "atheist" was someone who didn't believe in God, I had no idea what such a creature might be like. It was inconceivable that someone didn't believe in God, even if they didn't bother to go to church regularly. Everyone was expected to believe, or so all of the adults around me kept telling me. For most of my childhood the conception of "atheist" I developed was of some sort of vaguely evil antisocial pervert who, kind of like a "communist" was out to undermine all that was good and wholesome about America, and replace it with totalitarian slavery, at best. And they probably lurked in the bushes around school yards hoping to entice unwary kids into their ranks.

Then I hit my teens. At 13 I was suddenly allowed certain freedoms that I hadn't previously had, among which, I was now allowed to visit the library without adult supervision. Well, at that age any excuse to get away from the parents for a bit was a good one, even if it meant going to the library, so I did, and I started exploring, and I discovered -- shockingly -- that the library had whole stacks full of books about religion. I guess I had thought up to that point that only priests had books like this. And I found a shelf full of Bibles, and I checked one out and read it from cover to cover. That was the beginning of the end for any pretense to religious belief that I still had.

If I had thought some of the stuff they taught in religious instruction was strange, reading the verses in context made me realize how much of the really bizarre had been filtered out. (To this day I think the priests knew exactly what they were doing by not encouraging Bible-reading, and emphasizing the highly-selective missals instead.)  The more I read, the less I could understand how any adult could take this stuff seriously, much less base an entire life-plan on it. It all seemed even more fantastic than the most outrageous adventures of the ancient Greek heroes, or the stuff I was reading in comic books. Needless to say, this created some cognitive dissonance, so I did what every good Catholic boy was taught to do in such cases -- I went to the priest with my Bible, and a whole list of questions.

The priest readily agreed to grant me an audience, but he didn't answer any of my questions. Instead, he took one look at the Bible I brought -- a King James Version -- and went off on a lecture about how this was not the real Bible, and that if I were going to study the Bible I needed to get a proper Bible, duly approved by the Church. He showed me what to look for, so I went back to the library and got an official Catholic Bible. Read it from cover to cover. Found a few extra short books in the middle, and a few passages (mostly in the OT) in which the language had been slightly modernized (brought from the 17th century up to the early 19th century, at least). Otherwise, same stuff.

This not only failed to answer my original questions, it raised a whole raft of new ones. Why the whole big deal about which particular church one went to? Why, especially, the big deal about whether one was a Catholic or a Protestant? They all used the same book, essentially -- 95% identical, as far as I could tell, and the differences seemed inconsequential. Yet I was being taught in history class that people had been killing each other in religiously motivated wars for 500 years over just those differences.

I didn't go back to the priest right away. Instead, I started  visiting 'other' churches (keeping this a secret from my parents).  First the other Catholic churches down the street. Then, one momentous day, I went to a Protestant church.

This was a very Big Deal:  One of the "interesting" things the nuns taught us in religious instruction was that we were NEVER to set foot inside a non-Catholic church; these were not "real" churches, and if we ever did such a thing God would strike us DEAD on the spot.  (OTOH, we were supposed to try to entice our non-Catholic friends to come with us to the "true" (Catholic) church. This was seen as a gesture of concern for their spiritual welfare.)  I was still young enough to think there might be something to that warning, but my intellectual curiosity and, I suppose, teenage contrariness were such that I HAD to find out for myself.

So, I went with a friend to an Episcopal church. Blessed myself before entering (just in case), and stepped over the threshold, waiting for the lightning bolt from heaven.  Nothing happened. It looked a lot like some Catholic churches I had been in. The service was a lot like some Catholic services I had seen in smaller churches. The people were friends and families from the neighborhood, and none of them had horns or tails. No babies were sacrificed or eaten. Even the music was similar. I was both greatly relieved, and vaguely disappointed.

Well.

So I started experimenting with other churches. I went to Presbyterian, Lutheran, and Baptist services. I watched the older brother of a friend get married in an Assembly of God hall.  I went to a synagogue with a couple of Jewish friends (loved the little hats).  The more I saw, the more I was struck not by the differences, but by the similarities.  Yet all of the adults in authority over and around me kept insisting that it was the differences which were vitally important; wars were still being fought over them in places like Northern Ireland.

Finally I was forced to conclude that either the adults around me had NO IDEA WHATSOEVER about what God wanted them to do or how He wanted them to live, or else... there was no God there to tell them anything, and they were all fooling themselves.  I reached this conclusion before I turned 15. At that time (in a young American male's life, anyway) it's pretty easy to believe that most, if not all of the adults around you are overbearing fools anyway, so I inclined towards the latter explanation. ;)

Still, although I realized that I didn't believe in God any longer, I didn't really think of myself as an "atheist."  That term still had unsavory connotations, and tying myself to it could only cause trouble.  So from that point I became a 'closet unbeliever.' I still went through all the expected motions around church on Sundays and holidays, but it wasn't the same for me.  The mystical elements were gone, and the only remaining mystery was whether most of the adults around me really believed in the mysticism themselves, or were just putting on the act they thought society expected of them.

Externally, life didn't change much.  My unbelief was a private thing that I didn't really talk about with anyone. Partly, I think, because it was still being codified, but also partly because I didn't think there was anyone I could talk to who wouldn't be thoroughly shocked at my position, and turn me in to whoever one turned atheists in to for rehabilitation. A few of my high school friends got caught up in various "born again" Christian movements, and I did have some long and intense discussions with them.  Caused enough doubt to save a few of them from evangelical clutches, too, which I don't regret. But never by promoting atheism; always by pointing out the inconsistencies, contradictions, and absurdities of religion.

Studied a lot of science and math, got a bunch of scholarships, and went off to college to study science and engineering. It was in college that I discovered a field called "philosophy," and it opened a whole new world for me. It was also in college I discovered that were actually quite a few people who had no trouble at all calling themselves "atheists," although they didn't make a big deal out of it, and that they were as normal, functional, and diverse group of citizens as any other demographic.  At the age of 19 I discovered -- not a community, exactly -- but at least a number of kindred souls to whom "atheist" wasn't a dirty word.  So that's the point from which I date my public "coming out" as an atheist (although I didn't tell my parents in so many words for another decade.)

From that point, and for most of my adult life, my atheism was no big deal. It was a part of who I was, but I didn't go out of my way to talk about it.  The difference was, if somebody did ask about my religious beliefs, I was no longer shy about discussing my non-belief in detail. Outside of a few philosophy seminars the topic just didn't come up that often, though I did fend off a few well-meaning but (to me) overzealous "atheist evangelists" who tried to recruit me into various humanist organizations to spread the good word. (This always struck me as vaguely silly -- like the Piraro comic with the two atheists going door-to-door handing out blank pamphlets.)

Then, as trite as it may sound, I think the events of 9/11/01 were another turning point for me. Here was an event that underscored just how dangerous and damaging religion could still be in the modern world, and in assessing that event I began reflecting on the various ways in which religion -- mostly Christianity in the US -- had been subtly and not so subtly encroaching on secular society for a long time. The battles to get creationism taught as science. The attempt to institutionalize discrimination against various social groups. The insistence on government recognition of the US as a "Christian nation". Cover-ups of child abuse.  Bombed clinics and murdered doctors.  Artistic censorship.  The notion that God wanted the US to invade Iraq.  So, I went out and started participating again in on- and off-line discussions about religion, atheism, and doing a certain amount of social advocacy.  I now realize that these are critical issues in determining how our society, and perhaps how our species is going to go in the near and distant future. I don't consider myself a radical atheist like Hitchens or Dawkins, but I do consider myself a strong atheist, an atheist advocate, and an areligionist.

One result of this newfound activism has been a closer and deeper look at what I had always regarded as my own "conversion" to atheism.  Previously I believed that, while I had doubts as a child, I was essentially a believer, and that reading the Bible and failing to find convincing explanations for what I found there had tipped me over into unbelief.

I no longer believe that to be true.  What I now believe is that I was born an atheist.  That I never really did believe, even as a child. But as a child I first of all had to go through the motions of what was expected of me by the adults upon whom I relied, and second, had at the time no clear concept of any viable alternative.  What I now think is that the transition of my early teens was not a "conversion" to atheism, but a realization and slow acquisition of understanding about the unbelief which had been a part of my makeup from the beginning.

This raises some (to me) interesting questions.  I now find myself wondering whether it is really possible to actually change from belief to unbelief, or vice versa, by intellectual effort alone.  I feel like there must be some people for whom this is true, but it no longer seems like such a simple, or cut-and-dried process as I once imagined it to be.  What I do know at this point is that I can't "make myself believe" something; I either do, or I don't.   Should circumstances warrant, I could certainly behave as if I believed something, and that might even fool most people. But it wouldn't be the same thing as real belief.

Which is, I suppose, kind of an anticlimactic conclusion for a religious (or an areligious) testimony:

I was never "saved", because I was never "lost".

Maybe just a little confused for a while. :)
Dr H

"I have nothing to say and I am saying it and that is poetry."
                                                           -- John Cage

Offline Dante

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Re: It's TESTIFYIN' TIME ...
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2013, 04:35:44 PM »
What's up, Doc? Welcome! I've read some of your stuff at ATT, glad to have you here!

I was a little surprised at your story! Most of it, with the exception of the Catholic parents, bear a striking resemblance to my own life and realizations of my own disbelief.

I'm glad you wrote it down, just so I don't have to!  ;D

Actually it doesn't. One could conceivably be all-powerful but not exceptionally intelligent.

Offline Dr H

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Re: It's TESTIFYIN' TIME ...
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2013, 05:42:38 PM »
What's up, Doc? Welcome! I've read some of your stuff at ATT, glad to have you here!

I was a little surprised at your story! Most of it, with the exception of the Catholic parents, bear a striking resemblance to my own life and realizations of my own disbelief.

I'm glad you wrote it down, just so I don't have to!  ;D

Feel free to cut-n-paste and put your name on it.

This seems to have been so much the year for athesit testimonials that I got tired of typing it out all the time.
Although at this point I suppose I could legitimately reduce it to "I was born athesit", and be done with it.  ;)
Dr H

"I have nothing to say and I am saying it and that is poetry."
                                                           -- John Cage

Offline shnozzola

Re: It's TESTIFYIN' TIME ...
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2013, 05:50:56 PM »
Then, as trite as it may sound, I think the events of 9/11/01 were another turning point for me. Here was an event that underscored just how dangerous and damaging religion could still be in the modern world

I second that, Dr. H.  Plus, the internet is much less deadly for atheists from those oh-so-compassionate religions.
“The best thing for being sad," replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something."  ~ T. H. White
  The real holy trinity:  onion, celery, and bell pepper ~  all Cajun Chefs

Offline wright

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Re: It's TESTIFYIN' TIME ...
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2013, 05:52:34 PM »
Wow. Thanks for posting that, Doc. Kudos to your younger self for being so thorough in checking out the "opposition".

I'm curious about how your family took it when you outed your atheism to them. Up to you if you care to share that, of course.
Live a good life... If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
--Marcus Aurelius

Offline neopagan

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Re: It's TESTIFYIN' TIME ...
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2013, 06:03:02 PM »
Welcome, Doc.  Great backstory - glad to see you here.
If xian hell really exists, the stench of the burning billions of us should be a constant, putrid reminder to the handful of heavenward xians how loving your god is.  - neopagan

Offline Dr H

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Re: It's TESTIFYIN' TIME ...
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2013, 06:15:33 PM »
Wow. Thanks for posting that, Doc. Kudos to your younger self for being so thorough in checking out the "opposition".

I'm curious about how your family took it when you outed your atheism to them. Up to you if you care to share that, of course.

Sure.  Both parents are gone now, but I will forever wonder about their reactions to my non-faith.

Mom always supported us kids in whatever whacky endeavor we got involved in, from forming punk bands to sky-diving.  Dad was always the staunch conservative, trying to keep us on the straight path.  And given his prior association with the church, I expected the most negative reaction from him.

It was exactly the opposite.  Dad took it in stride, and mom freaked out.  Dad told her that I was an adult; had clearly thought long and hard about my path, and should be welcome to it; whereas mom held out to the end of her days that I would "come back to the church" someday.  She became less vehement in recent years, but would still bring it up from time to time.

I have come to suspect that Dad didn't really believe either, but he was of a generation where even if you didn't, you acted like you did.  Dad was a teacher, and I still remember as a kid when a local public school teacher lost his job and essentially got blackballed from his profession, after being outed as an atheist.  But by the time I told him I was an atheist, dad was retired, and didn't give a rap one way or the other anymore.

Dr H

"I have nothing to say and I am saying it and that is poetry."
                                                           -- John Cage

Offline wright

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Re: It's TESTIFYIN' TIME ...
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2013, 08:39:17 PM »
^^^Thanks, Doc. Interesting. My own mother is a very low-key Quaker and has no problem with my atheism. I've yet to out myself to my father and stepmother; both of them are relatively liberal (for a North Carolina definition of "liberal") Baptists.
Live a good life... If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
--Marcus Aurelius

Offline Wasserbuffel

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Re: It's TESTIFYIN' TIME ...
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2013, 09:59:43 AM »
It's funny to me how many of us realized our non-belief by the act of reading the bible.  Just like you, I read the book when I was a 13-14 years old.

Unlike you I hadn't had years of indoctrination spurring me to do so. I'd been given very little religion, I was told what my mom believed and expected to believe it too.  I read the Bible, not to answer questions, but to cement my faith with knowledge.  It had the direct opposite effect. I was so thoroughly horrified that I rejected the lot of it.

Offline wright

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Re: It's TESTIFYIN' TIME ...
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2013, 10:16:08 AM »
^^^Welcome to the forum, Wasserbuffel.

I was a Christian for 15 years, in a church where we were encouraged to study the bible. So I did; I read it almost every day, wrote down passages in my journal I found relevant and so on. It wasn't until my faith began to decline that I saw how much I had to ignore and cherry-pick to make it palatable to me. My slide towards atheism became inevitable after that.
Live a good life... If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
--Marcus Aurelius

Offline Wasserbuffel

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Re: It's TESTIFYIN' TIME ...
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2013, 11:31:55 AM »
That's interesting Wright.

My mother didn't ever take us to church. My father did a few times after they divorced and he had us on weekends.  One of my strongest memories from that is being handed a coloring page that depicted people worshiping the golden calf.  I was about 6-7 and found it very strange to be coloring a picture of something that was considered to be very bad.  I wouldn't have been any more surprised had they handed me a pornographic coloring page.

I can see how easy, and essential in many cases, it would be to cherry-pick the Bible.  There are many passages that are prettily written, but in context are actually quite horrifying.

Offline wright

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Re: It's TESTIFYIN' TIME ...
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2013, 01:25:40 PM »
As a humanist and a poet, I find many inspirational and lovely bits in the bible. The trouble of course is that those passages are almost literally drowned in blood. Shorn of all the apologetics and rationalizing, it's an intensely human document, like the Iliad and the Odyssey.

Feel free to post something more about yourself in the Introductions or Testimonials sections; we're always curious about new members. Again, welcome.
Live a good life... If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
--Marcus Aurelius

Offline viocjit

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Re: It's TESTIFYIN' TIME ...
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2013, 04:04:13 PM »
I liked this part : "I was never "saved", because I was never "lost".".
You know write stories. I like that.

Online Nam

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Re: It's TESTIFYIN' TIME ...
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2013, 04:58:56 PM »
I was mentioned NO WHERE IN THAT! Fer shame....okay, I didn't read any of that. So, if I am mentioned....woohoo!

;)

-Nam
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.


Online jaimehlers

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Re: It's TESTIFYIN' TIME ...
« Reply #14 on: October 22, 2013, 03:42:12 PM »
Very interesting, Dr H.

My story (though I don't exactly consider myself an atheist, more of an apatheist, someone who doesn't really care whether gods exist as far as their own lives go) is quite a lot different than that.

Since I went to a Methodist church growing up, there were no restrictions on whether we could read the Bible or not.  Indeed, there were Bibles in every pew, so I would read it every week, from the time I was old enough to actually read and understand the words, around the time I was seven or eight, in lieu of paying attention to what was going on (aside from standing up to sing along with everyone else).  I treated it like I did stories that I read outside of church - as something to read.  I had a serious case of book-hunger, and I read more than I did anything else.

I didn't really spend a lot of time actually thinking about the stuff written therein.  It was just something to read.  Also, I was fairly anti-social when I was growing up, with good reason, but I don't want to go into that for now.  Suffice it to say that I just liked to read.  I didn't believe, at least in the way that most people thought you should believe; I also didn't not believe.  I didn't really think that there was any point to asking "God" for anything, to praying, or to any of the other religious stuff.

Really, if there were two events that broke me out of regular church attendance, it would be my high school Sunday school teacher, and my experience at Confirmation.  The Sunday school teacher came fairly close to fitting the stereotype of a religious fundamentalist - which I didn't really know about at the time - but I had been learning about science in high school, and to hear him just flatly dismissing evolution as untrue without actually explaining why was almost more than I could stand.  He also brought up things like the Rapture, from Revelations, and positively announced that it would actually becoming 'soon'.  Never really bothered to explain how he knew this, and I was not interested in asking him questions at that point[1].  Didn't really understand the Book of Revelation when I actually started reading it, either - it just seemed weird and disconnected from the rest of the Bible.

As far as Confirmation went, it would be more accurate to say the experience of having it denied to me.  I had issues with one of the other teenagers undergoing Confirmation, and he was a relative of the pastor.  I still went through the motions of learning the Confirmation stuff, but I think the pastor questioned whether I was serious about it because of the problems I was having with her nephew.  So I went on a mission trip (and although I spent at least some of the time hiding in the van and reading an anthology of science-fiction short stories), I did put in quite a bit of effort helping.  But I was still denied Confirmation, even though the pastor had promised my parents that if I went on this mission trip, I would be confirmed.  Honestly, I think that broke my parents out of the habit of regular church attendance, since they found a new church after that (where I was confirmed shortly after joining), but I think they largely stopped going not long after.  I certainly did.

But for all that, it didn't affect my attitude of not-believing and not-not believing.  I never became a devout Christian, but I never had anything that shook me from what I'd learned growing up until a lot later.  Not even my constant arguments with creationists (in letters, and later online) who claimed that evolution was false by using really bad arguments caused that.  Really, if anything did, it would probably be this site, specifically the forum, and the exposure to the more toxic forms of Christianity I got here.  People I actually knew who were religious seemed like decent folk in general, and I never had any problems with them and their beliefs.  And although I knew about the damage caused by toxic religious belief in the past, I didn't really think of it as something that could happen today.

I didn't mean to post such a long post in your topic, Dr H, but I think it needed to be said, and you did wonder if other people's experiences were similar to your own or not.
 1. My reaction to adults I didn't trust was to clam up and tell them as little as I could get away with so that I could avoid enduring their presence for any longer than necessary.

Offline Dr H

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Re: It's TESTIFYIN' TIME ...
« Reply #15 on: October 22, 2013, 07:43:43 PM »
As a humanist and a poet, I find many inspirational and lovely bits in the bible. The trouble of course is that those passages are almost literally drowned in blood. Shorn of all the apologetics and rationalizing, it's an intensely human document, like the Iliad and the Odyssey.

As a musician and composer I feel the same.  I readily acknowledge the huge influence that Christian literature has had on art and culture.   My dad even wrote a Mass and an Ave Maria.

But acknowledging the cultural influence doesn't mean that I have to take it as any more true than I would take, for example, the Norse/Teutonic mythology that inspired Wagner to write 16+ hours of opera.
Dr H

"I have nothing to say and I am saying it and that is poetry."
                                                           -- John Cage

Offline Dr H

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Re: It's TESTIFYIN' TIME ...
« Reply #16 on: October 22, 2013, 07:46:43 PM »
I was mentioned NO WHERE IN THAT! Fer shame....okay, I didn't read any of that. So, if I am mentioned....woohoo!

;)

-Nam

I dunno Nam... if anything, you might drive me back to religion.

Except this time I might decide to glorify Kali.  :o
Dr H

"I have nothing to say and I am saying it and that is poetry."
                                                           -- John Cage

Offline Dr H

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Re: It's TESTIFYIN' TIME ...
« Reply #17 on: October 22, 2013, 08:13:05 PM »
  The Sunday school teacher came fairly close to fitting the stereotype of a religious fundamentalist - which I didn't really know about at the time - but I had been learning about science in high school, and to hear him just flatly dismissing evolution as untrue without actually explaining why was almost more than I could stand.  He also brought up things like the Rapture, from Revelations, and positively announced that it would actually becoming 'soon'.  Never really bothered to explain how he knew this, and I was not interested in asking him questions at that point[1].  Didn't really understand the Book of Revelation when I actually started reading it, either - it just seemed weird and disconnected from the rest of the Bible.
 1. My reaction to adults I didn't trust was to clam up and tell them as little as I could get away with so that I could avoid enduring their presence for any longer than necessary.

Y'know... I didn't have that, exactly, but you remind me on some of the strange stuff I was exposed to.  I mentioned that many of our nuns were first generation eastern Europeans.  In addition to not having great command of English, most of them also brought with them a host of interesting superstitions from "the old country", which some of them integrated with their Catholicism in ways that I appreciate now, but which as an 8-10 year old just struck me as almost dangerously bizarre.

I'll never forget this one nun giving us a lecture on the evils of Halloween.  At one point she related a folktale about "Jack and the Devil" -- or how the "jack-o-lantern" got its name, and she wandered off on a tangent.  She started talking about sleep-walking, and how sleep-walkers could sometimes be possessed by the devil, were also influenced by the moon, which is why, she said, they were also know as "loon addicts".  At least that's what it sounded like she said, until she wrote the word on the blackboard and I realized she had said..."lunatics".  She went on about how the moon's influence could cause sleep-walkers to walk up walls, and over water, but that if you woke them up they would fall or sink.

To this day, I swear she was serious.  She related this stuff in the same tone, and with the same facial expression as she talked about the Sermon on the Mount and the Crucifixion.  And two of the older kids who had the temerity to snicker partway through this narrative got duly whacked with the ruler, as was the custom for disrespect in those days.  This was not the only bizarre story of that kind she told us, but this one was so weird I related it to my parents, who almost decided they should go to the school and talk to the priest about it...but never quite did.  I think they figured that in a few more weeks I'd be in a different class, with a different nun, and so the issue would resolve itself.

Looking back on the incident from where I sit now, I now think I understand better how the interestingly composite religion of Vodou or "Voodoo" got started in the New World, among other things.


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But I was still denied Confirmation, even though the pastor had promised my parents that if I went on this mission trip, I would be confirmed.  Honestly, I think that broke my parents out of the habit of regular church attendance, since they found a new church after that (where I was confirmed shortly after joining), but I think they largely stopped going not long after.  I certainly did.
Now that is odd.  I don't think I've ever heard of someone wanting to be Confirmed and being denied.  In my church Confirmation was like puberty:  everyone went through it, whether they wanted to or not.


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I didn't mean to post such a long post in your topic, Dr H, but I think it needed to be said, and you did wonder if other people's experiences were similar to your own or not.
Not a problem.  I don't own the forum, or the thread.  And I am interested in hearing about how/why people believe things.

Your position interests me:  essentially you claim to neither believe nor disbelieve?  Is that correct?

Would you consider yourself an agnostic?  That is, do you believe that it's possible to answer the question of belief one way or the other?

Dr H

"I have nothing to say and I am saying it and that is poetry."
                                                           -- John Cage

Online Nam

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Re: It's TESTIFYIN' TIME ...
« Reply #18 on: October 22, 2013, 09:22:39 PM »
I was mentioned NO WHERE IN THAT! Fer shame....okay, I didn't read any of that. So, if I am mentioned....woohoo!

;)

-Nam

I dunno Nam... if anything, you might drive me back to religion.

Except this time I might decide to glorify Kali.  :o

What about green beans, or Brussels sprouts.[1]

-Nam
 1. Kali=Cauliflower -- get it? get it? No! Fine! I'm stoopid. :'(
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.


Offline neopagan

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Re: It's TESTIFYIN' TIME ...
« Reply #19 on: October 22, 2013, 09:41:01 PM »
Since we are bringing up "lunatics" in xian education... I went to a xian school until the fourth grade. My third grade teacher would have been what I now recognize is a raving, fundamentalist, whacko-conspiracy theoristTM nut job of the highest order (but she was hot and I had a boy crush on her).
I distincly remember her going on about "the humanists" who want to kill all the old people and get rid of all laws so everyone could run around stealing and killing as they pleased.  I recall being horrified my grandparents would be killed, and there would be mass choas in the streets any day now - for chrissakes, I was 9!!
She also had a similar rant about christmas and xmas being the new satanic word... I told my parents, but I guess it didn't matter to them, since the public schools were a mess (too).
I won't even get into the apocalyptic nonsense. It's a wonder I survived.
If xian hell really exists, the stench of the burning billions of us should be a constant, putrid reminder to the handful of heavenward xians how loving your god is.  - neopagan

Online Nam

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Re: It's TESTIFYIN' TIME ...
« Reply #20 on: October 22, 2013, 10:01:19 PM »
Sunday school teachers, or female teachers throughout my life were extremely attractive women. Even my Junior High principal (who was 34, at the time) was attractive. Also, short. I think she was 5'2", or something. Boys went to school just to see her. Lucky us, our Junior year, she became our High School principal. My 10th grade English teacher was sexy, literally. Like a model, and she was into punk rock and played the drums.

Oh, memories...

-Nam
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.


Offline Dr H

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Re: It's TESTIFYIN' TIME ...
« Reply #21 on: October 23, 2013, 07:53:19 PM »


What about green beans, or Brussels sprouts.[1]

-Nam
 1. Kali=Cauliflower -- get it? get it? No! Fine! I'm stoopid. :'(

Glad you clarified:  I figured you thought I'd  mispelled "kale".  ;)

Hmm... "Kale, the goddess of botanicide..."

Dr H

"I have nothing to say and I am saying it and that is poetry."
                                                           -- John Cage

Offline Dr H

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Re: It's TESTIFYIN' TIME ...
« Reply #22 on: October 23, 2013, 07:56:41 PM »
Sunday school teachers, or female teachers throughout my life were extremely attractive women. Even my Junior High principal (who was 34, at the time) was attractive. Also, short. I think she was 5'2", or something. Boys went to school just to see her. Lucky us, our Junior year, she became our High School principal. My 10th grade English teacher was sexy, literally. Like a model, and she was into punk rock and played the drums.

Oh, memories...

-Nam

You bastard:  except for the nuns, most of my teachers were ex-army drill sergeants... except for the ones that were ex-marine drill sergeants. :P

Dr H

"I have nothing to say and I am saying it and that is poetry."
                                                           -- John Cage

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Re: It's TESTIFYIN' TIME ...
« Reply #23 on: October 23, 2013, 10:33:47 PM »
Sunday school teachers, or female teachers throughout my life were extremely attractive women. Even my Junior High principal (who was 34, at the time) was attractive. Also, short. I think she was 5'2", or something. Boys went to school just to see her. Lucky us, our Junior year, she became our High School principal. My 10th grade English teacher was sexy, literally. Like a model, and she was into punk rock and played the drums.

Oh, memories...

-Nam

You bastard:  except for the nuns, most of my teachers were ex-army drill sergeants... except for the ones that were ex-marine drill sergeants. :P



If it makes you feel better, the High School I went to was the 2nd toughest High School (out of 20 total) in the district. And when I say "tough" I don't mean the school was strict, I mean kids bringing knives and guns to school, a bomb threat at least once a week, students having sex in places and positions I've mainly only seen in hc porn-with a live-on campus deputy sherrif with his own strike force to keep order which they couldn't do. Regular gang fights, mainly The Cowboys (Racist Rednecks) against The Towels (black gang that wore white towels on their shoulders or on their heads), and countless other shit of a student population of over 6,000.

But we had a great football and basketball team, and a shitload of programs in which I took no part in. Oh, we also had a "student smoking area" (cigarettes).
Oh, and our principal let us graffiti the school (as long as it was positive).

;)

-Nam
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.


Online jaimehlers

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Re: It's TESTIFYIN' TIME ...
« Reply #24 on: October 24, 2013, 09:44:30 AM »
Now that is odd.  I don't think I've ever heard of someone wanting to be Confirmed and being denied.  In my church Confirmation was like puberty:  everyone went through it, whether they wanted to or not.
It isn't so much that I wanted it.  I went through with the work needed to be confirmed, and then was denied it by the minister.

Quote from: Dr H
Not a problem.  I don't own the forum, or the thread.  And I am interested in hearing about how/why people believe things.

Your position interests me:  essentially you claim to neither believe nor disbelieve?  Is that correct?
Not exactly.  The word 'apatheist' is one I coined.  Essentially, it's a play on words - apathy + theist.  Say them out loud and you should be able to figure out why.  What it means is that I don't care enough to stake out a belief or non-belief position on the question of gods.  My concern is with how my behavior impacts other people.

Quote from: Dr H
Would you consider yourself an agnostic?  That is, do you believe that it's possible to answer the question of belief one way or the other?
Until someone comes up with proof one way or the other, I consider myself agnostic, yes.  But that just has to do with knowledge, not belief.  So I guess you could call me an agnostic apatheist.  That is, I don't know if gods exist and I don't care either.

Offline LoriPinkAngel

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Re: It's TESTIFYIN' TIME ...
« Reply #25 on: October 24, 2013, 10:07:14 AM »


You bastard:  except for the nuns, most of my teachers were ex-army drill sergeants... except for the ones that were ex-marine drill sergeants. :P

Are you implying ex-army drill sergeants can't be sexy?   :-*
It doesn't make sense to let go of something you've had for so long.  But it also doesn't make sense to hold on when there's actually nothing there.

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Re: It's TESTIFYIN' TIME ...
« Reply #26 on: October 24, 2013, 12:08:54 PM »


You bastard:  except for the nuns, most of my teachers were ex-army drill sergeants... except for the ones that were ex-marine drill sergeants. :P

Are you implying ex-army drill sergeants can't be sexy?   :-*

He's not implying it.

;)

-Nam
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.


Offline Dr H

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Re: It's TESTIFYIN' TIME ...
« Reply #27 on: October 24, 2013, 02:48:10 PM »
Until someone comes up with proof one way or the other, I consider myself agnostic, yes.  But that just has to do with knowledge, not belief.  So I guess you could call me an agnostic apatheist.  That is, I don't know if gods exist and I don't care either.

Heh, OK, "apatheist," it is.  ;)

For a while I called myself an "atheistic agnostic," in that I didn't think it was possible to know, but if it were, I would vastly prefer that there not be any gods.  But as my ideas about "belief" developed I eventually became comfortable with just "atheist" as probably the most accurate description of where I'm at.

Dr H

"I have nothing to say and I am saying it and that is poetry."
                                                           -- John Cage

Offline Dr H

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Re: It's TESTIFYIN' TIME ...
« Reply #28 on: October 24, 2013, 02:51:49 PM »


You bastard:  except for the nuns, most of my teachers were ex-army drill sergeants... except for the ones that were ex-marine drill sergeants. :P

Are you implying ex-army drill sergeants can't be sexy?   :-*

Well... I suppose they could be, but all of them were male, and I just don't swing that way.

Nothing against those that do, but, in the immortal words of Popeye:  I yam what I yam. ;)
Dr H

"I have nothing to say and I am saying it and that is poetry."
                                                           -- John Cage