Freethought Friday

Late Free-Thought Friday: Duke Bonanza

Today’s late Free-Thought Friday post comes from a friend on twitter, Duko Bonanza. I think you’ll find his story compelling, interesting, and emotional. More of duke can be found on his blog Dukebonanza.com.


 

My Atheist Testimony

When I was young I loved Jesus. I thought he was the fuckin’ bees knees. I was passionate about Christianity, and lived my life as a devout Independent Baptist. I believed the earth was 6000 years old, and created in a literal 6 days. I believed every word of the Bible was God breathed into the minds of the men who wrote it without any input from them at all, and the only English translation of the Bible that was relevant was the King James 1611.

So what happened Duke? Why’d you decide to join a group of baby eating, amoral, heretics reviled the world over?

I’m often asked by concerned believers: “What happened? Did someone die?

I’m glad you asked that, because that’s just what we’re going to talk about today.

I began having doubts in my mid 20’s. Those doubts did not come to fruition until my late 20’s early 30’s but somewhere in the depths of my brain was a small voice saying: “you know this is bullshit, right?”

I’m often asked by concerned believers: “What happened? Did someone die? What caused you to be so bitter towards God?” It wasn’t anything so dramatic as that. For me it was a simple lack of his presence. It was the countless nights of crying out into the darkness, and getting no reply.

And the voice started getting louder everyday:

“8 million species of animals in groups of 2 and 14 on a fucking boat? For how long?”

“The majority of the stars we see are way further than 6000 light years away.”

“Dude you’ve read the Old Testament, you know God’s a viscious cunt right?”

I had no idea where to look for information, but I was looking at Penn’s Wikipedia page…

At 32 I had moved to being a deist, which quickly progressed to agnosticism before the year was out. Around that time I discovered Penn Jillette. I had no idea what being an atheist meant. I had no idea where to look for information, but I was looking at Penn’s Wikipedia page (I don’t remember why now) and saw that he is an atheist, so I googled his name, came across his YouTube channel, and started watching.

Through him I found Hitchens, and through Hitch I found Sam Harris, and I rather quickly became an atheist. I heard arguments I had never heard before, and they hit on all of my points of concern with pinpoint accuracy.

I did, however, still talk to God. Mostly when I was angry at him about something.

That’s an interesting part of my atheist journey. I was so used to just talking to God when I was hurt, scared, or just plain pissed off that I just kept doing it. Then one day, I was just about to start up when I said to myself: “Why are you doing this? He’s not there.” And a thousand pounds was lifted off my shoulders.

Up until that point I had been in abject misery over the loss of my faith and I desperately wanted it back. My marriage was falling apart. I was mostly hiding my beliefs for fear of reprisal. I felt betrayed and lied to by every person I loved, and worse I had led quite a few people to Christianity (including 3 confirmed atheists).

In that one moment all of that disappeared. My fear, and anger melted away and for the first time in my life I felt saved.

I went straight home and changed my Facebook status to atheist, and confirmed the fears of everyone I knew.

That was the beginning of the end for my marriage. It resulted in one of the worst fights my ex and I ever had. We were never the same. It took about 5 years to finally end. We fought the whole time, and if I’m honest I don’t really miss her. I miss having my daughter, but not my ex. I remember her looking me dead in the eyes the night of that fight and saying:

“Now all my friends are going to know they were right about you.”

And I suppose they were. I learned that day that love, perhaps, can’t conquer all.

Since then I’ve been an out of the closet atheist. I don’t necessarily broadcast it where I live (bum-fuck Florida) but everyone who knows me, knows I don’t believe.  And I wouldnt change that for the world.

So that my story, or I should say the short version of it. One life saved from an existence of meaningless servitude to a God that’s not there, and not a moment to soon.

Duke’s bio:

High priest in the church of the Risen Macho Man Randy Savage
U.N. ambassador for Gay Jesus
Lives in rural Florida
Surrounded by Baptists

Deep Thoughts · The Diary Of My Mind

Deep Thoughts #1: Sharing A Sob Story

So today marks the beginning of another recurring article that will appear on this blog, Deep Thoughts. This article is meant to be a side jog from the rest of the articles you will find here. It won’t be regarding religion, atheism, or autism but will instead deal with topics that have been on my mind recently. Some articles may involve science, psychology, philosophy, cosmology, physics, as well as a plethora of other topics that I might find interesting.

Tonight we are going to talk about sob stories. I’m not talking about your personal life story, I’m not denigrating the stories that others might have shared, what I am dealing with are those stories on social media that are written in such a way that pushes for likes and shares. These are the stories that only exist for the purpose of spreading like a virus.

For Example:

So…..let’s talk about what is wrong with this video….namely murder…

Now it might come as quite a shock to you but a doctor cannot kill a human being for the purpose of organ donation. I know that might not seem fair but doctors are not generally in the murder business. However if you watch the video you will realize that between the father leaving his daughters hospital room and her waking up from surgery, the dad had to go on a long drive with the doctor, the doctor then put the father down like Old Yeller, harvested his heart, transplanted it into the daughters chest, and then booked it for the border before the police could catch him. The only reason this is shared, and it has been shared an awful lot, is because people are fucking dumb and they don’t take the time to think things through.

My next example is a little more questionable…

So we’ve all seen online numerous posts about people who lived short lives. Maybe they got cancer or had a heart issue that took their life. Of course their death isn’t really the point of the story but the real point is that they left some sort of feel good message that is meant to make you consider your blessings and enjoy your life a little bit more. Truth is once these are shared the person who shares them moves on with their life and more than likely never thinks of the random dead person that the story was built around.

Here’s the deal, we all know that life is short and even so we will live as if we have nothing but time on our hands. Reading a sob story online does not equate to you living a better life, it won’t make you consider anything nor will it make you a better person. It will simply become a share on your wall. Why? Because you have absolutely nothing vested in the person’s story that you shared. The exception being if the story is about someone you personally know that affected you in some great way.

Think about it. If you went to work on Monday and found out that a co-workers mother passed away you would probably feel bad for the co-worker. You might get them a nice card and tell them how sorry you are for their loss but you wouldn’t really give a shit about the woman who died. She’s an unknown, you don’t have any emotional connection to the mother and so her death would be meaningless to you outside of the added work it might put on your shoulders since your co-worker is out to attend the funeral.

Now, imagine your own mothers death. Maybe it has already happened or perhaps she is still alive, however I guarantee the feeling that goes through your mind is ten times more intense than the feeling that would go through your mind with your co-workers mother. You know your mom, she was there for a significant portion of your life, she aided you and raised you. Her death is going to take a huge chunk out of your heart and perhaps you will be lost without her for months or possibly years to come.

To bring this to a personal story, my cousins suicide affected me greatly. I had grown up around him and we had been friends throughout our childhood. When he died I had to totally rethink my own life and choices, it changed the way I saw things and over times completely changed my life. What you don’t know of this story is that not long before my own cousins suicide one of my congregants had a grandson that committed suicide. I felt for the person in my congregation, tried to comfort them as best as I could but never really gave the grandson a second thought. That seems cold but I think if you truly think about it you will see that it’s just how we deal with the world around us. Imagine a life where every single death that you heard of affected you to the same degree as the death of an immediate family member, what kind of life would that be?

The last thing that I want to touch upon are the bane of my existence…they are the type “Amen” posts or one like equals one prayer posts…

A few examples

 

 

Now these seem rather benign but if you’re like me the same person continually posts these things. Now why on earth would people share these? Well…because they get a lot of shares and likes. Seriously, who is going to scroll past a baby? What good Christian is going to scroll past and admit to loving the devil? Unfortunately not enough…

I guess my point is that if you really want to be a better person and you want to change the world then go out and do something. No ones life has ever been changed because you shared a Facebook sob story or meme. You are simply being an annoyance to your friends and family who are smart enough to see through the bullshit that you somehow can’t see through.

If you are old enough you will realize that none of the things that I have spoken of are new. These type of things were shared on e-mail when that was a new technology and before that many of these things were sent around in the form of a chain letter. DON’T BREAK THE CHAIN OR SOMETHING BAD WILL HAPPEN!!!! Seriously, stupid people used to buy stamps and then share these things in the actual mail before digital technology became the norm. How weird is that???

So in conclusion people share these because it makes them feel like a better person. They didn’t scroll past the baby and they made sure to type amen and prove their love of god, so they can now go about their day being the shitty person they probably are and no longer feel bad about it. In a way sharing these types of stories is really nothing more than a form of mental masturbation, it doesn’t do or help anyone and yet you keep on doing it because it feels good and helps your prostate.

The Diary Of My Mind

Dealing with Stuff and Things

Life can be incredibly overwhelming to me. For many years I have enjoyed watching the news and discussing current events. Current events were at one point one of my focused interests. I could and still can tell you just about every important news story that happened throughout the day. I used to love keeping up to date but lately this has become a chore and in many cases a terrifying experience.

All of my life I have dealt with fear. I was raised during the era of “Stranger Danger”, at the tail end of the cold war. Life it seemed could be ended for everyone at any point and everyone knew “drop and cover” would do absolutely nothing in the event of a nuclear war. Being a fundamentalist at the time added an extra layer of fear because, at any point, Jesus could return and if you were a sinner it would mean hell for all eternity.

Then things got better. The cold war ended, the world began eliminating its nuclear stockpiles, and humanity seemed to possibly be turning a corner. We had our first African-American president, gay marriage was legalized, and universal healthcare seemed to be a very real possibility in our near future. There was no doubt in mine and many others minds that we were entering a world where anything was possible.

Then the debacle of an election occurred on November 8th occurred and all of that forward progress stopped.

I can no longer turn on the news and enjoy myself. Every day a new awful thing has occurred. One day we hear that the President is goading the North Koreans to a nuclear war, the next day we learn that birth control will no longer be covered by insurance, hell maybe whacking seals with clubs will become the new national past time tomorrow? Seriously, how bad is it going to get?

I am not one for hyperbole. I really couldn’t give a shit it the president hates Rosie O’Donnell. If he wants to tweet about how bad the ratings of the apprentice are now, have at it. I don’t care if he eats pizza with a knife and fork, or that he can’t form a coherent sentence to save his life. I honestly don’t care about 90% of what the news makes a big deal out of, but after listening for 15 minutes, my heart is racing, I start sweating, and my breath shortens.

If I could, I would just hide myself away from society.

People are so fucking exhausting. The world is fucking exhausting. Simply the idea of leaving my house anymore is fucking exhausting. Who knows, maybe today will be the day that I’m at a store when some moron starts shooting the place up. The facts are that half of the country wants to make positive changes that could help the country and the other half simply doesn’t give a shit about anything at all it seems.

I find myself joining that side of the equation from the opposite end of the spectrum. I don’t give a shit anymore because the vast majority of people don’t give a shit. Leave me alone to my books, my movies, my games, and my own thoughts. Let me have my dreams of a better world that will more than likely never exist. Do what you want, destroy the fucking world if that what you see fit to do, just leave me and my little niche the fuck alone.

So to get back to the topic at hand, how do I deal with this world and how overwhelming it is at times?

Short answer: I don’t.

Long answer: I really fucking don’t.

General Information

A New Direction

So to start, I’d just like to say thank you to everyone that has read this blog consistently over the last several months. I hope that you will continue to read in the future. If you have read my recent posts you will know that my life has been turned upside down a bit and I’m having a bit of an existential crisis. I’ve been a jumble of emotions, which is odd for me, and I’ve had great difficulty putting my thoughts together over the last few weeks, this has been especially hard in trying to keep up with the daily schedule that I laid out awhile back. So with that said, this blog is going to go into a new direction.

Have no fear, you will still see all of the articles that I have been writing here but they will not be added in the weekly format. I love writing but I find that the quality of my writing goes down greatly when I try following a format. Thinking, it’s Monday so I need to write this article destroys my motivation many days, which I believe shows in the writing.

So from now on, I will write what I want, when I want to write it. We will still have Wednesday Woo written by my wife and Free-thought Friday, written by a guest blogger, but outside of that the articles will be more off the wall and hopefully better written.

Thank you once again to everyone that has read so far.

Matt

The Diary Of My Mind

Why I Can’t Write.

My brain is on a senseless shuffle
I see no end in sight
life is an endless boiling bubble
emotions are my plight…

I honestly cannot tell you how I feel at the moment, which doesn’t equate well to a decent blog. I’ve been in shut down mode for the past two weeks. All I have done is played a video game and sat quietly allowing my brain to be in complete down time. This is what I do when my brain gets too much information for it to handle. Many people enjoy music, reading, a productive hobby that produces something, for me it’s video games.

At one point in my life I didn’t understand why I played video games so damn much, yet today I get it. When I am in a game I don’t have to worry about the outside world. I am one with the game. In a way, it is almost a spiritual experience, if you wanted to use those words. I’ve meditated in the past and that feeling of complete quiet and content emptiness is the same that I can get after a two-hour gaming session.

So that’s what I’ve done for the last two weeks. I start the day with the intent to write but as the hours go by and the bullshit builds up I end up in the same state where I was the day before. Why? The reason is I honestly don’t know how I should feel at the moment.

I’m still grasping my official diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, what that means to me and what my next steps are? Having that diagnosis was a liberating experience and yet as the last few weeks have gone by I have had more and more trouble using the old coping mechanisms that I learned throughout life. Three times in the last week I have gone mute, not just quiet but physically incapable of talking for a period of time. This honestly has not happened to me in years.

On top of that my grandmother is still slowly dying in hospice. Her mind has now gone completely and she spends her waking moments crying for her mother to come and rescue her. She hasn’t eaten a thing in two days and the nurses say she has somehow forgotten how to drink liquid. It won’t be long now but I know that she is in agony. I love my grandmother and hate seeing her in this much pain. I only hope her pain will soon be over.

On top of that my grandfather is still an asshole. He has done nothing but make matters worse. Constantly saying he is going to get her out of hospice care as soon as he can and how much of a burden she has caused him when it comes to the bills. It’s all a lie and only meant to make people feel sorry for him. He loves control and this is just one more way that he believes he can maintain control over her life at least for a short time more.

Speaking of that, I have no idea how to reconcile the good memories I have of my grandfather with the new image of him that I have today. I spent summers at my grandparents and loved fishing, early mornings with my grandfather. We spent hours on the bank fishing for bass, crappie, catfish and carp; my grandfather had a special dough bait recipe that he has made for years which was magical when it comes to carp and catfish.

He also taught me how to haggle at garage sales and taught me a lot of what I needed to know when I was early in the ministry. Hell, I wouldn’t even have been a minister if it hadn’t been for my grandfather. I spent a huge portion of my life trying to make him proud which I think I did but now all of that time spent sickens me. I cannot believe that I held him in such high regards for so long after what I know and have witnessed the last couple of years.

To make matters even worse, I have just learned that I have severe sleep apnea. On Wednesday i went to the hospital for a split sleep study. For someone to be considered to have severe apnea they must have 30 or more apnea episodes, periods of the brain waking up for 10 second or more, in an hour. I had 67 apnea episodes. The person conducting the sleep study then hooked me up to a CPAP machine and I was out like a light. The two hours I was connected to the machine were the two best hours of sleep I can honestly remember. I woke up without a headache, something that never happens, and had more energy throughout the day than I have had in a long time.

Anyway, so now I am waiting to speak with my doctor and get my CPAP ordered. The person at the sleep study said that a CPAP wouldn’t just help me but was incredibly important for my long-term health. This has me a bit freaked out but to be honest the worst part is that knowing I can wake up without a headache has made my last few morning headaches ten times worse.

So anyway, I’m mad, I’m confused, I’m not sleeping well and I wish I could make sense of life. I’m hoping to get back into writing soon but the time for that, outside of this article, just hasn’t arrived yet. Maybe soon, but not at the moment. Thank you for bearing with me and your continued support.

Matt

The Diary Of My Mind

The Internet and Communication

I honestly don’t know what I would do without the internet. I remember the very first time I got online. I was around twelve years old and the school had just gotten hooked up with it. A new and wonderful world was opened to me. I could research absolutely any topic that I wanted and learn absolutely anything.  For someone who had read my grandmother’s entire encyclopedia collection, it was quite the experience to find out all that was still out there that I could learn.

However it wasn’t until we got the internet at home that my world was actually completely opened. Chat rooms and message boards opened up a way for me to communicate that was nearly impossible for me in a face to face fashion. To this day I am still far better at expressing myself on-line than I am in any fashion off-line.

This is a point that I want to make. Since starting this blog, I’ve had numerous people tell me how much better I communicate and express my feelings than other people on the spectrum that they personally know.  I appreciate their enjoyment of my writing but at the same time I feel like maybe they are getting the wrong picture. Maybe some day I will make a video of myself speaking and then it will be far easier to understand.

I speak in a very monotone voice, my mannerisms and ways of speaking are broken and when stressed I have a stutter that bothers me greatly. People have called me emotionless and cold my entire life, I don’t tend to get excited in my speaking and many times I have been called boring.

I write this to let you know that the internet has provided me with an ability to speak and communicate that I wouldn’t otherwise have in the outside world. I met the love of my life on-line and most of the friends that I have come through the internet. Conversations on-line are far easier to keep track of, if I ever misunderstand something I can simply go back and read it again. Writing on-line also comes with the wonderful ability to edit what I have said, fix issues that may exist, and re-word things in a way that is far more acceptable for conversation.

So thank you for complimenting my writing skill, it is something that I have worked on a great deal over the years. I love to write and I love to read your comments and e-mails. My only hope is that you don’t see my ease of writing and think that I am far more advanced than those people on the spectrum that you know in the outside world, your friends and your family. I believe if you ask many people who are on the spectrum they will say the same thing as I have about communication and writing on-line versus communication and speaking off-line.

I look forward to your comments and questions. Thank you so much for reading!