We All Bleed The Same, Love vs Hate

Acceptance strikes a cord

Last night I had a chance to hear this song in person:

Acceptance… The message struck me at my core. It is exactly what I feel deep inside. It connects with me. I felt lucky to be there and experience it live. I also suffered many levels of irony which is how the Fridge touches me and inspires these posts.¬†ūüėČ

Levels of irony

The first level was the fact I wasn’t quite in my own skin at this event. I couldn’t be entirely myself, I couldn’t openly declare my lack of faith. Fear of the results of doing so kept me from taking that leap. I was me… just not entirely me if that makes any sense. Living in the Morridor of Utah, you take notice how people that aren’t of the main religion are treated. You see what opportunities are lost to those that would openly counter the faith’s views.

Irony hit me again as I did a little research on Alex Boye and found out like me he also has a Mormon background. Yeah I know you are wondering what rock I have been living under the last decade right? I’m sure I’d heard this, but not having him on my playlist till now I wasn’t sure if he was a member or not.

Love each other, stop the hate

I felt the next level of irony when I watched the video above the next morning. In it there are some really awesome concepts, loving not hating, and a clear message that he includes the LGBT community in that concept. It kind of made me wonder just how much of the LDS history and the current stance of the church he is aware of. A little more research turned up this video where Alex describes why he believes in the Mormon faith. The following bit of his talk stood out to me:

“being a member for me started out … a lot less about the facts, a lot less about what was in the scriptures, a lot less about what certain things meant, and certain books and the content. It was about the fact there were principles in it that could…keep my family name above board so to speak”

Cherry picking is ok

I have found I get along best with the faithful that don’t take every scripture to heart, that only care about the good stuff in the holy book. Good people have always cherry picked the best parts of the religion as a point of focus in my opinion. Often I discover that they don’t ever dig really deep in the history or the ‘facts’ as Alex puts it. I get that and have no issue with it. From the believing perspective they have a tool to improve their lives. From my point of view I see a person that would be good, kind and just even without a religion to follow. To me their faith is like dumbo’s feather, a talisman of zero actual merit and yet somehow containing the power to focus works, beliefs and efforts on good things.

This concept has often been a topic of Fridgy goodness and is close to my heart. I think that’s why his song resonated deeply with¬†me. In the past I would have called it a spiritual witness as I sat there pondering why I feared being openly apostate amongst my fellow men. Maybe it’s because I don’t feel accepted when scriptures decry the non-believer as the anti-christ. Like¬†in the case of Korihor¬†worthy of imprisonment without cause eventually leading to his death by trampling of those that pity him.

The final irony

Alex’s video implies the importance of accepting gay people that in my believing days I thought were damaging families with their desire to marry the one that they loved. Something that today I see as their right to be protected. I simply can’t imagine a loving father who would deny them that right in this life or the next. ¬†I just don’t believe a decent God would inspire¬†policies excluding¬†LGBT people. Not when he is the one making them that way!

For me the final irony struck as I pontificated on this post. It’s how this very religion that is loved so dearly by such a prominent member not that long ago would have denied him and his wife the right to an eternal life. Why? Well for the same reason that they deny those who are LGBT the same right today. Because God said so:

‚ÄúShall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so‚ÄĚ -Brigham Young

 
I hope that one day I will have more courage to be myself, especially my apostate self amongst family, coworkers and friends. We need people like Alex to inspire us to accept each other. People like Jane Manning who buck the status quo, and instead pressing forward, leading against divisive dogma that seems to insidiously insert itself into our politics and faith at every turn.

Calling attention to something wrong isn’t hate

I truly believe in love not hate. I feel lots of love towards Mormons, they are still my people even though I no longer believe. It is part of my history that becoming LDS meant following a different path than all the rest. If only I could help those that feel like I’m hating on the church as I leave it realize isn’t the case at all. To me, I am loving the underdog that is getting the short end of the stick. Kind of like how past LDS people like Dr Lowery Nelson were speaking up and saying this is wrong. We are better than this.¬†

Love wins

Just look at it this way. If being black and preventing your marriage to a white person so many years ago was just a prophetic screw up. Isn’t is possible that here and now the same mistake is going on right before our eyes? Could not questioning these revelations now rather than decades later prevent some of these LGBT teen suicides?¬†This is a faith that dictates a persons worth. I think is it reasonable to doubt if that faith leads to death. Please accept that. I honestly don’t mind if you know the facts and still believe. I really don’t, it is fine by me. My only desire in exposing them is to give everyone the opportunity to know and chose with full disclosure.

Because, well because I never got that chance and somewhere out there someone is hurting, believing they aren’t good enough for the celestial kingdom and considering drastic measures. I think they have the right to consider all the facts before believing in a father in heaven that would make them Gay and then deny them being with the person they love.

I desire you know one thing though. Believer or not gay or straight, we shall sup together and care for one another. I believe that truth needs no religion to make it worth doing. Or the words that pricked my heart last night:

 

I’m so glad that we are different

Nobody can be like you

To thy own self be true

Just be yourself

Don’t be afraid

Just come as you are

love each other, stop the hate

 

 

Looking for Clarity in Mixed Messages

Competing communications

Mixed messages occur when we communicate two competing ideas. This results in miscommunication and logical conundrums. It is part of life and can often be attributed to our perception of words and actions.

For example a female often sees sexual advance of a male as a guy just ‘being nice’ while the male experiences a woman who is just being nice as a ‘sexual advance.’ Clearly this leads to confusion between both parties.

There are other cases of mixed messages though, such as where an abuser sends signals of love and hate towards the victim. Keeping them wondering exactly what is needed for love from the person in control. The narcissist creates a double bind in the relationship that is difficult for the victim to recognize and often keeps the victim in the situation far longer than expected. It also happens to the dismay of this on the outside that can readily see the abuse while the victim remains essentially blind to it.

In one case the mixed message is a misunderstanding due to personal bias, while the other is a situation where a level of thought control is exerted by one party over another emotionally attached person. There is another category of mixed message in my opinion. The religious one. I think we find components of both concepts in religious mixed messaging.

Relationships matter, good message

There is definitely a relationship at stake. You are supposed to ‘personally’ know Jesus right? In my discussion with people of differing levels of faith it becomes very clear that how a particular scripture or statement by a trusted leader depends greatly on a person’s point of view.

 

obi wan

 

But there is also messaging via the party in control that is worth consideration in my humble opinion. This sermon on the Fridge was inspired by such a message I recently read by a leader of faithful Mormons. There were some ideas in his talk that I really, really liked. Here are some examples:

 

“This is an important reminder to modern Israel that we should treat one another with respect and kindness and especially those living among us who are not members, because we were once strangers too.”

“If a neighbor, work colleague, or schoolmate is not interested in investigating the gospel, we must always continue to extend the hand of friendship”

“I invite every parent listening today to talk with your children about how they should treat others not of our faith on the school playground and in our neighborhoods. Our children learn best by the example of parents and leaders. Let us be careful regarding what we say about others and how we treat our fellowmen.”

“If we are His disciples, we must practice Christian civility and kindness to all we meet, including those who have chosen to disassociate themselves from the Church.”

 

Personally I found these to be great sentiments and appreciated hearing them taught from the pulpit. They addressed concerns I have as I watched my family ostracized from the community due to no longer believing the the prevailing faith. If I had one regret for following truth that lead to the collapse of my shelf it is the effect it eventually had on my children’s friendships when they came to similar conclusions as I did. It’s hard to see your own child treated differently due to not being of the same faith. So that last quote was very meaningful to me personally.

What is the whole message?

If only I could end it there though. The problem is this isn’t the only part of the message. Here are some other quotes from the same talk:

 

“I raise my warning voice, as Paul did, that there are those ‚Äúthat trouble you‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒpeople that ‚Äúpervert the gospel of Christ.‚ÄĚ I would be shirking my duty if I did not raise my voice to warn you of the challenges we face today.”

“We are saddened when we witness some of the ‚Äúvery elect‚ÄĚ deceived as Jesus warned.”

“To me this is a perfect analogy of what happens when stalwart Church members, the ‚Äúvery elect,‚ÄĚ those who for all appearances seem to stand tall and erect in the faith, die spiritually.”

“Viewing podcasts and Internet sites that raise questions and doubt without being intellectually honest and that do not adequately and honestly present the Lord‚Äôs perspective”

 

To me this is a very mixed message. Love the heathen, be kind and nice and civil, but don’t let them contaminate you with their thinking or doubt. The unbeliever apperently needs to be both respected and pitied as a great tree that lost its roots and died? Taking it a step further old stereo types are reinforced with messages like this:

 

“When someone stops doing these simple but essential things,1 they cut themselves from the well of living water and allow Satan to muddle their thinking. Sin and guilt cloud the mind‚ÄĒleading them to deny past inspiration and revelation and causing a ‚Äúde-conversion‚ÄĚ from the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Non-believers are sinful, bad message

The person that leaves must be sinful to doubt the faith is core to this message. I still have no idea what ‘sin’ I was committing when I realized what I considered spiritual proofs of my own faith were no different than the things Muslims or the FLDS felt or any other religion. Looking at this with brutal honestly I had to consider the reliability of these feelings if they could also cause a teen girl to think it was necessary for her to become polygamous bride to a cult leader like Warren Jeffs.

 

 

Reading this talk, the mixed messaging of love your neighbor as your equal, but remember how lucky you are to be one of the chosen few was glaringly obvious to me. I think this is  because once I stepped out of the grasp religion had on my thoughts I noticed this conflicting communication is rampant in all faiths.

Bible says don’t kill, then Nephi is told to kill a drunk guy. Thou shalt not lie, but then Joseph Smith lies about his polygamy and orders a printing press destroyed for exposing it.¬†You don’t even have to leave the bible to find mixed messages. ¬†In one verse Jesus says love one another. Then in another he says you need to hate your family to be his disciple. 2 Entire¬†maps¬†of scripture have been put together¬†highlighting the conflicting ideas.

I have determined mixed messages come part and parcel with religious faith. But I doubt most believers consciously¬†realize the mixed messages that are being sent because they have been used to it for years.By now it just seems normal to hear such conflicting concepts reinforced. It’s simply the way religion works if you will. In fact I tend more to that explanation than an overt effort to control the thinking of members. Some find it abusive and cult like. I think it is more mild and unintentional myself.

Seeking clarification

Maybe part of the mixed messaging goes the other way, and like the relationship were one person can’t see things the same way the other can is a failing of not listening… That conclusion I reach because of this last quote that stood out to me.

“It is hard for me to understand why anyone turns to other voices on the Internet without first turning to voices of the scriptures or the voices of the living prophets and apostles.”

Let me see if I can clarify for Elder Ballard that which seems to be so hard for him to understand.

I did turn to the scriptures, and the voices of living prophets. But I kept hearing these mixed messages that frankly put never really get answered in way a that builds faith.

The answers in the new essays, especially if you do your own research following the footnotes, don’t honestly paint a compelling picture. They come off as weak justifications for some pretty awful things. Or they cause massive contradictions about how things that were doctrinal¬†all of a sudden now aren’t. Like how the living prophets of yesterday like Brigham Young where just a product of their racist generation when they prevented Black people from getting the priesthood? Really? If that leader was off his rocker in his time and place why should I believe the current divisive LGBT rhetoric from leaders today?

I did turn to the faithful for answers to my questions. They didn’t have answers. In fact all they had was what you said. Blame to give me for not studying hard enough.

This is NOT a failure of trying

I want you to know I was reading the Book of Mormon daily the night my shelf collapsed, prayerfully looking for these answers that every leader says are there. I have yet to find clear and succinct answers. Only contradictory apologetics that put more spin on the facts than a used car salesman. I did everything asked and more before considering the possibility I was wrong and had put my faith in the wrong place. What have you done?¬†Have you read the CES letter? How is it a director of church education can’t answer anything on the list of those items? How is it so much of what is in there is known to so few members of the faith?¬†Why is the answer always my fault for not trying hard enough no matter how hard I try? Can’t you see how self serving such an answer is? You can use that kind of answer to prove you shouldn’t leave any religion. It’s illogical thinking and rests on circular reasoning that in any situation other than testing your own faith is obviously false.

 

 

Maybe the reason these podcasts and websites you vilify get more attention than the leaders of the church from those that questions is simple. Maybe it’s because these voices that are both somehow evil and to be avoided and yet made by non believers that shouldn’t be avoided but befriended….

Maybe they aren’t sending the mixed messages you have been.

 

 

“I just like to shoot straight, I’m a man of science, “

 

  1. Constant repetition is a well known way to control a persons perception. Is it really any wonder that ceasing to constantly repeat something might change a persons perspective?
  2. Luke 14:26

Chapel of Pain

Beginnings and Ends

We bury her tomorrow. My mother. She had been sick for a while, but after a debilitating month she finally let go.

After the initial shock of her passing, I have to admit I felt only relief and release. Her torment, that she had both suffered and created, was finally over. The fear and apprehension I felt every time I spoke with her, her projection of guilt and shame over my ‘apostasy’, her deep-seated need for comforting lies about her as a mother … and overshadowing it all, her enduring¬†abusive behavior. It all died with her and I finally felt free.

Yet now as the funeral approaches, I’m experiencing a growing sense of dread. In part because of the platitudes I expect to hear about my mother, ‘the angel’. In part because of the mormon service my family is planning. And in part because it will be held in the LDS chapel where I suffered so much as a child.

Dark clouds of trouble hanging o'er us - an LDS chapel overshadowed with foreboding clouds
Look, see yonder… dark clouds of foreboding

Buildings and Tearing Down

Attending her funeral in that chapel won’t be easy. Some may see¬†it as a house of peace, but for me it was a house of pain. So many conflicts. So much torment. So many memories.¬†It may seem strange to think how strongly they still affect on me 30 years later, but I suppose that’s why they call them formative years. It was traumatic at the time and it remains difficult to process today, especially at the thought of going back.

I have vivid memories of that chapel. So much of who I am was formed there during the bubbling cauldron of my adolescence.

That was where my father forced me to get baptized when I turned 8. I told him that I didn’t believe and didn’t want to make that commitment, but he said my testimony would come after my act of faith and he set the date. When it was over, I couldn’t¬†stop crying from the font to the confirmation. Because I had just made lifelong covenants to a church I didn’t believe in, and I took that seriously.

So you see, that chapel was¬†where I learned¬†to doubt myself, where I learned that those who can’t feel a testimony of mormon truth must be blinded by sin or pride. And that if I couldn’t believe, then I must be sinful … my thoughts and feelings unreliable. And if so, I was better off trusting my leaders instead of myself, even when it didn’t make any sense.

That chapel was where I learned that only mormon kids were worthy of being friends with. That I was to live in the world, but not of the world. And to avoid the world, the people in it and their beliefs at all costs, associating only with mormons whenever possible … because mormons were safe and the world was dangerous.

– But ironically, that was where I was bullied and beat up by the ‘moral and worthy’ mormon boys at church. I was so excited to learn how to camp and earn merit badges with the scouts, but they only wanted to play sports on scouting night. I was asthmatic and didn’t know how to play, so they used¬†me as a tackle dummy and laughed when I lay on the ground and couldn’t breathe. And when I tried to quit, I got in trouble for not being a team player.

– Where the bishop interrogated me in detail about my worthiness. And publicly humiliated me by not letting me¬†pass the sacrament. Why? Because touching myself was the only way to get rid of my morning erections so I could get dressed for school. I tried everything … wearing tight clothes to bed, tying it off with rubber bands or string, self-inflicted pain, icy cold showers, scalding hot water … but nothing worked. The only way to get dressed was to ‘commit a sin’. I felt so horrible about myself that I even tried to follow the Bible’s advice and ‘cut off the hand¬†that offended me’. But the attempt was so painful I couldn’t¬†go through with it, leaving me feeling even more guilty about my lack of resolve as I cleaned up the bloody mess and painfully tried to heal. At church,¬†the other boys laughed and joked about touching themselves, and obviously never told the bishop. I saw them rewarded for lying about something normal, while I was punished and shamed for being honest.

РWhere I was forced to attend Youth Conference, where we were lectured about the evils of science, the lies of the world, the temptations of movies and music, and the sins of desire and sexual attraction. They taught us never to touch or fantasize about the opposite sex. And that god would judge us for eternity over every thought and feeling that crossed our adolescent minds.

– Where I was forced to attend¬†church dances, even though looking at girls with desire was apparently a sin next to murder. And touching them with desire would lead to my damnation. But I found out the hard way that declining to attend dances (even with the pure intent of avoiding sin) was also wrong, and would get me in trouble with my parents and church leaders. I guess the only thing worse than touching a girl is acting like you don’t want to touch girls.

РWhere I was taught about the blessings of eternal sex in the celestial kingdom. I remember the married man standing in front of the class, telling us all that sex was worth the wait and how he wanted to stay worthy and enjoy it in heaven forever. Which was in stark contrast to his declarations of the evils of masturbation, sex and fantasy from just a few moments before. I was literally being taught that even though sex was good and I should want it, that any desire for it would lead to my damnation.

After these experiences and many more, I grew to hate that building and the faith it represented. To hate the lies my church leaders taught me, the no-win situations they put me in, and the physical and emotional abuse they both inflicted on me and forced me to endure within its walls.

And now my family wants to celebrate my abusive mother’s life in that house of lies and pain.

The moon casts eerie light on the ruins of a chapel on the plains.
The paths of my memory lead to the crumbling walls of a broken childhood.

Out of the Frying Pan

The closer I get to the funeral, the less I want to go. I don’t even want to get on the plane, much less step foot in that building. I feel sick, paralyzed. My wife had to buy the plane tickets, and I’ve been so upset I had to call in sick every day this week.

Some mormons would say my negative feelings prove that ‘apostates’ are filled with the spirit of the devil … or that a sinner has innate intolerance for the holy ghost¬†… or that an ungrateful son will always be selfish toward his¬†mother.¬†But no, this is what happens after 27 years of abuse at the hands of a church.

To dismiss me as an ungrateful, angry apostate is to ignore the¬†20 years that I devoted to the LDS¬†church after my baptism. Submitting myself to the mormon¬†faith I had no testimony of. Believing that my thoughts must be wrong because everyone¬†I loved and trusted told me so. Studying, fasting, praying … hoping for a long-awaited testimony with each act of faith. But receiving nothing in return but emotional and religious abuse, a near death experience from arsenic poisoning¬†on my mission, and years of subsequent nerve pain that the LDS church covered up, blamed on imaginary sins, and threatened me to keep secret.

So when I say it will be difficult for me to sit through my mother’s funeral in that chapel, I’m not talking about a little boredom or discomfort.

I’m talking about going to dinner with your rapist and having to pick up the check. Or holding your child’s birthday party in your pedophile uncle’s back yard and having to smile and introduce him to all the kids. Or openly crossing enemy lines after escaping a POW camp where you were tortured and almost killed.

To go to my mother’s funeral, I will have to walk back into the house of pain where I suffered decades of emotional and religious abuse that I’ve worked so hard to leave behind.

Right through the front door. Tomorrow. 

I’m scared.¬†

Making Pokemon a No Go is a Mistake

The Church Of The Fridge endorses Pokemon Go. Yep you heard it right, it’s a good thing.¬†Since personally playing this magical game my interactions with my children steadily increased. Not by forcing them to talk to me, but in a natural more organic way. We share rare catches on our family text group. We go for walks together hunting creatures and stocking up on Poke balls. It’s an easy game to play. It encourages walking and interacting with each other. The ease of play makes it fun for young and old alike. A game that appeals to such a wide age range is rare indeed. Did I mention the walking part?

It’s been great for me personally, a reason to exercise and chat with my kids. Something to talk about we both enjoy. And according to my old religion it should be avoided. When I first heard the admonition to not play Pokemon Go in a recent broadcast, I was flabbergasted. I mean didn’t he know that there are Poke stops at EVERY church building. Pokemon Go has made many an unwilling teen far more interested in going to church lately than any activity I am aware of. I think the fear promoted in the counsel to not play is unfounded. The rising generation is built to multitask. Information flows to and from this generation in lots of different ways, internet, twitter, instagram, phones, TV, cable and so on. They have been raised on reaching for a device in their pocket to access the knowledge base of the entire planet when their curiosity is peaked. I presume as the old guard, it is hard for the leaders to grasp that a child or teen can swipe a Poke stop every few minutes and still get something out of a lesson. But they can as can be attested to my kids pipping on a conversation I was convinced they weren’t listening to while they played a game.

After pondering the massive generational gap on this edict¬†another thought hit me. Earring’s… I remember when women were limited to only one earring per ear by prophetic decree. At the time my wife was saddened as she removed her second pair. I saw her give up a piece of individuality that day, a dimming in what made her unique and valuable to the world. Sure she complied because it’s all about obedience right? But at what cost? Since we have left the faith much of the light that made her amazing has returned. That has been one of the more unexpected benefits of exiting a regime that controls so much of what you wear and how you are supposed to look.

The next thing that hit me was the poker ban. A little while after the the earring banning came the poker ban. It happened when the world series of poker was at an all time high in popularity. I suppose that is one of the reasons to ban things. If everyone is doing it it must be wrong. At the time, I played a monthly game with some of my best friends, I was playing occasionally with my brothers and sisters too. For me a small amount of $$ in a game was a great way to spend a couple of hours shooting the breeze while basically handing a friend twenty bucks of mad money. For a person that tends to be more introverted, these games were a great way to socialize and develop friendships. But, in an effort to obey I quit going and quit playing with my compadres. I remember how it saddened me at the time.

Concluding¬†that this whole Pokemon No Go really wasn’t all that different than prohibiting other popular items like extra earrings and card games in the past I had an epiphany. I think this is a cry for attention. Religion as a whole is struggling to remain relevant in an ever changing world. For one so ensconced in gerontocracy the LDS faith is a case study in adaptation difficulties. Dogma once shrouded in ritual as divine knowledge is regularly destroyed by accessibility to information on a scale that has not been available to any previous generation. The old game doesn’t work anymore. So faith as a tool to help humanity is … well … kind of showing its age. It’s far too easy to hop back in time to a video or a text conversation and see exactly what was said.

The used car salesman tactic of BS’ing your way out of a uncomfortable corner is giving way to a style of open discussion where we have to look at and deal with faults in each other rather than ignore them or hide them. It’s not all roses, the reality is I do look fat in these jeans, and the white lies that greased human interaction such as these don’t work as well anymore. I think we are giving up some privacy sure. But we are also creating a world where open, honest, brutally honest discussion is the norm. This prevents oppression and encourages freedom.¬†This¬†is the party in the world today where the crotchety old man called religion is sitting in his chair being ignored so he lashes out with wisdom that used to be his gift to society but instead is rapidly debunked by google.

If faiths are to remain relevant in the world to come. Faith needs to adapt. Faith in a religion often equated to faith in oneself. Faith in your ideas and choices. Feedback that the risk you are taking is worth the effort. This is why the Fridge endorses Pokemon Go. Because it is a good thing that has strengthened families. Those that embrace it have used it to create positive change in their lives. Sure it may be a short lived success. But there will be another thing and another thing and another thing in the future that humanity creates to feed our social needs. We should watch for it and embrace it.

I think religion needs to finally realize what has always been it’s best product offering to humanity. It’s hope. Hope that wrongs will be righted and things will get better. All the hell fire and damnation fear tactics just don’t work anymore in the world of iPads and information. Humanity is basically good, and the old monster under the bed stories are being exposed for the myths they were all along. The new message is Hope for a Voltorb, but be happy with that Rattata for the candy you get. And always remember just being alive is a wonderfully magical experience waiting to be explored.

It’s time to find what works and promote that, rather than cling to outdated dogma dismissing anything new and popular. That is the sermon on the Fridge today.

Now if only I could get Niantic to put a Poke stop here…

 

Pure Morality is Beyond Belief 

A common defense of religious faith is that without it humanity wouldn’t be as moral as it is with it. This is a tune that is being increasingly sung in the battle to demean those that leave the faith. Thanks to the inspiration of the divine chiller in the kitchen I think I know why.

As the rise of the nones in the US, not to mention the world at large increases. Religion, particularly organized religion feels under attack. Churches in America are experiencing an exit of faithful believers unprecedented in its history. 

Non-belief is categorized as a religion as believers are so want to do it accounts for nearly 23% the people in the US. Here is some data from Pew Research


If you lump Protestant Christianity together as a whole that makes the secular nones the second largest religion in the US. 


This is creating an interesting phenomenon. Organized religions are cooperating like never before. They are banding together to dismiss the people that are vocal in thier non-belief. I have noticed that even the non religious who say they are spiritual and still believe in God but just not the Christian one thier parents do are demonized right along side the atheist and agnostics.  

Most of these organizations have cannonized scriptures that doctrinally assert thier faith is the only true one. Divine revelation saying all other churches are a pale imitation or even an abomination in the eyes of thier particular God. 

The worlds religions don’t have a history of getting along. Jihad, crusades and so on prove that. But these differences are being set aside to battle the biggest threat to thier existence yet. People losing thier faith in faith.  

To do battle though, the amalgamation of organized religion needs to create criticism from a position of common ground. You can’t look dumb calling out your  Muslim buddy for not believing in Jesus when you are both attacking the atheist.  

To me it’s no surprise that religion as a source of morality is held up as a major benefit of belief and a reason for organized faith.  And they do have a point. Moral instruction is a common theme in most churches. 

But why is that? Is it because God gave each faith a for the most part slightly different version of moral rules? Or is it possible that morality was a divinely human trait before religion came into the picture to sell it to us? 

Organized religion with its tithes and collection plate would have you believe without thier moral instruction the world would go to hell in a hand basket. So you need to belong and pay up to keep the faith viable.  

This is why the religious criticism is as equally focused on the spiritual but not religious as it is on the secular atheist. For all the rhetoric about needing to believe in God it’s really not. It’s about the loss of money cause you don’t believe in thier God.  

The idea you can’t be moral without faith is a smokescreen at best and a damnable lie at the worst. I have met person after person that feels more concerned about being kind, about loving thier fellow man, about truly treating others as you would like to be treated after they left thier religion. Something changes when you realize how good the world is is all on you.  You can’t wait for sky daddy to sort it all out later.  It’s up to you to do something now. You become more responsible for the part you play in the human race.  And I’d say that makes a pure morality something that happens after you move beyond religious belief. 

Leveling Up, The Power of Hope

First A Little Reminiscing

I looked back today to the beginning of COTF today. It surprised me. It’s been visited nearly 400,000 times, There are new likes on the FB page every day. I see it dropped in conversations all the time from people I don’t even know. Hell, there are even people wanting to vote for the Fridge as president!!

Ok, the Fridge for president idea honestly wasn’t mine, but it is a sign that the time of chill is nigh! The Fridge is coming into it’s own. My best friend keeps telling me I need to monetize this venture. “Especially now that you’ve lost your moral center!” he jokes. I can’t say I haven’t thought of it. It would be nice to not have it be a drain on my own time and resources. But part of me likes it being pure, no ads, no cash flow. Just a place for people to share truth as they see it. I even created Fridge magnets thinking about it but so far all I have done is give them away not even trying to recoup the cost to make them.

Someday, But Today Is Not That Day

If COTF ever gets crazy popular I realize that me funding it all isn’t a workable solution in the long term, especially if it has a chance of living on past my own mortality. But I figure we can jump off that bridge when we get to it. So if you really want a Fridge magnet, send me a message on the COTF FB page or comment on this post, I’ll hook you up till I run out. It’s on me. I¬†value the fact that you think this whole stream of consciousness I write is even worth reading. Call it my thanks to you and an outward effort by me to keep this a donation free, ad free, product free zone as long as I can keep it up. It might the one bit of goodness I leave to the world as my legacy. At least that is my hope.

 

Time To Get To The Point Already

So what is faith good for? What can it give us other things can’t? Relevant to that question¬†I have been pondering the value of religion recently. Religions, pretty much all of them, have something in common with video games. They have a process in which you ‘level up’. A person moves on to great and greater achievements celebrated by the religious community.

Mormonism as one example is loaded with them. Boy’s move up through priesthood levels to greater and greater responsibilities. Granted, girls don’t get quite as much attention but their organization has steps of achievement as well. Ultimately a goal celebrated by all is a temple marriage and the endowment given to all that measure up to the tenets of the faith.1 Other religions have analogues, bar mitzvahs, confirmations, baptisms and so on. Scientology has tiers of awareness and the poor guys that rode that comet were just getting to the ‘next level’.

To Level Is Human

This is a lot like Pokemon go, not to mention every other video game I have played. Do what you need to and you level up. This idea of progression must feel good to us. It must satisfy some internal need. After all video games can be as addicting as porn or ice cream. The reason things are addicting is because they trigger deep emotional responses in us, overloading them even. To progress and level up¬†feels good. It doesn’t need to be ‘real’ it just needs to impress your peers. I think this idea goes hand in with hope. By leveling up we make progress to what we hope for, what we want to achieve. So religions, even fake ones2 need a leveling system and something to hope for. I’d love your suggestions on how to level up in the COTF. They can be serious, sarcastic, funny or whatever all are welcome.

Hell, I will even give away free Fridge magnets3 (shipping included in the free part :)) for every idea! Tell us what you hope for, what you want to achieve and the steps you would like to celebrate while getting there. How are you gonna Level Up?

 

  1. There is even a more secret second anointing or endowment for the super duper faithful. Google that and Tom Phillips for some interesting reading
  2. Technically they are all fake, just some are willing to admit it!
  3. Did I mention these magnets double as bottle openers? Ironically awesome right?