The church I grew up in had very strong ideas about things like playing cards, dice, movies, video games, smoking cigarettes and many other things that were never mentioned in the Bible.  They just made up new rules about what constituted a sin.  This set my bullshit meter off.  We were allowed to play poker on church campouts if we used Rook cards rather than playing cards.  Swearing, drinking and dancing were outlawed.  I didn’t do these things, so they came up with something else as my vice.  It was listening to contemporary Christian music.  I went to a concert at another Christian college, only to get a dorm confinement upon my return because my school didn’t “condone that type of music.”  This is a band that played what is considered to be Praise Music now, and some of their songs appear in hymnals.  I think they just like power and finding fault.  This is the problem with dogma.  It is unkind, arrogant and alienating.  Many other abuses occurred there that have left me wondering what the fuck.  Most of us (hopefully) can look at the Salem witch trials in horror, wondering how such a thing could happen.  I don’t wonder.  It’s an extreme example of the kind of thinking and teaching that chipped away at my self esteem and my faith.  Over the centuries, Christianity has made up a lot of rules and have convinced people that they came from the Bible.  It’s really just church tradition.  Does the Bible say you have to pray and ask Jesus into your heart in order for him to become your lord and savior?  I must have missed that one.  I remember reading you only have to believe.  But I was never sure I’d prayed correctly, so I did it multiple times over many years to make sure.  I was at a camp bonfire, and the pastor had everyone bow their head.  He led the campers in just such a prayer, assuring them that everyone’s eyes were closed, and they should raise their hand if they prayed to ask Jesus into their heart.  It was private, just between him and them.  Then he asked them to come down in front of everyone.  He lied, and manipulated the kids.  I confronted him afterwards, asking him what a person needed to do to be saved.  He quoted Acts 16:31, and admitted he had never thought of it like that before.  I think about these things.  I always had doubts, and asked people in the church for advice.  I was instructed to act like I believed them, and that one day I would actually believe it.  No thank you.  It reminds me of the time I told my mom that “because I said so” was no longer good enough for me.

I’m not an atheist.  I don’t believe anything that strongly.  I just think we’ve collectively gotten god all wrong.  I used to attend Al Anon, and was a bit shocked the first time I heard “take what you like and leave the rest.”  A friend once told me she’s a “cafeteria Catholic”, meaning the same thing.  It sounded like heresy, just because we didn’t get the option of leaving anything.  We were encouraged in Al Anon, to believe in a higher power, and in a way I accept that.  In a way, no.  I see the universe as my higher power.  The laws of physics and all that.  The problem in it being a higher power, is that I’m part of that.  I didn’t come into the universe.  I came out of it, the way a wave comes out of the ocean.  So I guess I’m an agnostic.  But I don’t really like wearing labels.

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